Deadline Decisions

Will they or won’t they? That is the question on every Mets mind for the next few weeks. Sure the All-Star game is tonight, and that will be exciting, but when the guys playing the game don’t care to show up, I doubt it’s that prevalent in many fans minds. (Don’t get me wrong I love the All-Star game. I mean I already have my Mets jersey and hat on to cheer on our lone representative, Carlos Beltran. Ironic since it seems like he is one of the leading candidates to get traded in the next couple of weeks)

No, what’s on most fans minds is what management plans on doing during the trade deadline.

At the start of the second half the Mets go up against the Phillies, Cardinals and Marlins before anyone (Reyes, Ike, Wright) comes off the DL. Those teams include a team with the best record in baseball, two division leaders, and combine for a record of 149-125 (.544%). At the end of the week they could easily find themselves below .500 and essentially out of the wild card chase.

That gives Alderson a week to decide if he is going to trade Beltran, K-Rod, Isringhausen or Byrdak. (I didn’t mention Reyes because I can’t envision a scenario where they trade him)

So let’s play GM and try to answer this question.

K-Rod is the most likely to go because he has value and because the Mets don’t want to pay him $17.5 million next season. The interesting thing with K-Rod is, even though he is an extremely talented closer, the Mets probably won’t get much in return for him. Instead, the big reward will be the money the Mets save next season. I would say K-Rod goes regardless of the Mets position in the Wild Card race, and unless the trading team also wants Isringhausen or Byrdak back, I can’t see the Mets getting anything significant back.

The two relievers by themselves would probably bring back minimal returns as well.

This leaves us with the most interesting case of all: Carlos Beltran. Beltran cannot be given arbitration and so the Mets will get no compensation if he leaves as a free agent. He is due around 6-7 million for the rest of the season and has a no trade clause. Both of those things make it tough for the Mets to move him. Right now the talk is the Mets would receive a low-level prospect for Beltran.

What to do, what to do…

Don’t trade him. I understand saving the money could help with next season’s payroll. I don’t see it helping that much. As of now reports claim the payroll won’t be more than $120 million. Is it going to be less if they don’t trade Beltran? Furthermore I can’t stomach another salary dump. Two seasons ago, the Mets traded Billy Wagner when he returned from the disabled list to the Red Sox for essentially nothing. The move saved the team about $3 million. That offseason Wagner was a type A free agent, the Red Sox offered him arbitration and the Braves signed him.

A lot of the trade talk surrounding Beltran has the Mets eating a significant amount of his salary. If that is the case I obviously can’t call it a salary dump. What I don’t understand is how the Mets wouldn’t receive adequate compensation for trading away a player that is STARTING in the All-Star game, AND due only a small portion of his salary.

Yes, he would be a rental player, but so is almost every other player traded at the deadline. How many teams trade a player that is locked up at a reasonable price for several years? The Cardinals traded a ransom for Matt Holliday in his last year, and that was during a dreadful season from the All-Star. Yes, they were able to re-sign him in the offseason, but there was no guarantee of that.

What I’m trying to say is, Beltran could significantly help a contender’s chances. If the Mets can’t get proper compensation for him, they should keep him. (I just don’t understand how Beltran would land nothing, when the Mets were asked for prospects Ike Davis and Jon Niese for players like Xavier Nady, and Damaso Marte at trade deadlines in the past)

While it remains unlikely the Mets will make the postseason, it is still fun to watch this team. Beltran has been one of my favorite players since the team signed him, and I’d love the chance to watch him for a few more months.

More importantly, with the size of Beltran’s contract, the Mets could always trade him after the deadline as he is sure to make it through waivers. That way they can see if maybe they have a run in them, or wait out a desperate team. Perhaps a contender has a big injury and needs to replace the bat in the lineup. Beltran would be, by far, the best option out there. Hopefully that would lead to a better deal for the Mets.

Another possibility I’ve been thinking of is re-signing Beltran. It might be a long shot, but if Beltran would sign for cheap, he could be a good piece. I wouldn’t sign him and expect him to be the full-time starter, but bringing him back as one of several outfield options would be great.

I say one of several because I am still weary of his knees. I was not a fan of relying on Delgado at such an important position in 2009, but if he stayed healthy, it would have been a brilliant move. If you re-sign Beltran, but have other options in the fold, it is a brilliant move. Having a healthy Beltran in right field would do wonders for the Mets next season, and there is less of a chance he gets re-signed if he is traded this season.

So I guess, my decision as GM would be, trade K-Rod if you can, and hold on to Beltran unless there is an offer that blows you away.

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