Three weeks of bad baseball may well have changed the trade-deadline outlook in the Bronx. There was no guarantee that Brian Cashman was going to give up blue-chip prospects under any circumstances, but it seems a lot less likely if chasing a wild-card berth is more realistic than winning the AL East.
Such a trade could still make sense if the Yankees are getting back a top pitcher they would control contractually for a few more years, which is why I’m not ruling out the possibility they could deal for Jose Quintana or Gerrit Cole.
I just have a feeling that, with the Yankees free-falling into second place behind the Red Sox by losing 16 of 22 games, Cashman will be more inclined now to hold onto his best prospects until the offseason, when all teams potentially would be in play.
But even in that case, the Yankee GM will be trying to improve his team by July 31, and right now, with Dellin Betances walking the ballpark and Tyler Clippard a major question mark, the bullpen should be his priority.
All of which is a way of asking: why can’t the Mets and Yankees get together and help each other just this once with a trade of Addison Reed?
If I’m the Mets, I’m not trading Reed to the Nationals and then watching him solve their closer problem en route to winning the NL East title. They don’t need another Daniel Murphy scenario, after all.
But what’s the harm in sending him across town to be the seventh-inning guy in the Bronx for the rest of this season? Or even the eighth-inning guy, should Betances not be able to find the strike zone anytime soon.
I get it if the Mets are leery about putting Lucas Duda in pinstripes. He’d be another good fit for the Yankees, presuming that Ji-Man Choi won’t continue hitting Judge-like home runs, as he did in his Bronx debut on Wednesday.
But Duda is dangerous enough, especially hitting in Yankee Stadium, where you could see him hitting some big home runs in a pennant race, which would be a bit much for the Mets’ hierarchy to stomach.
Even if Reed were to pitch well for the Yankees, however, he wouldn’t have that type of headline-making impact. And don’t tell me the Mets should be worried they’d be waving the white flag by trading Reed, their most reliable reliever.
Their fans are smarter than to believe this team is going anywhere this season, especially as badly as they’ve looked against the Nationals and Dodgers in recent weeks, leaving no doubt that Sandy Alderson needs to re-tool for next season if he wants to be serious about winning a championship.
Indeed, at this point the Mets should care most about getting the best return possible in trades on their several players headed for free agency.
If they lose 90 games instead of 80 or 84, who cares? They get a higher draft pick next June, they take a look at some young players the last couple of months of the season and they re-set for 2018 with a chance for a big turnaround.
As I’ve written before, the Mets will have over $ 60 million coming off the payroll from the contracts of Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker and Duda — more if they decide not to pick up an $ 8.5 million option (or $ 2 million buyout) on Asdrubal Cabrera’s contract.
And that doesn’t factor in another $ 20 million next season on David Wright’s contract, which could be reduced significantly by their insurance policy, as is the case this season, or some type of buyout agreement on the final three years of his deal if the captain decides he can’t play anymore.
So if the Mets are willing to spend for at least a couple of premium free agents, and get what they’re hoping for from Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, they could fix their problems in a hurry.
Whatever trades Alderson makes aren’t likely to bring back impact players for next season, but he needs to seize this opportunity to beef up a farm system that is thin at the upper levels.
Relievers tend to sell well at the deadline, as bullpens become bigger and bigger in October, so Reed figures to bring back a solid prospect.
If it’s the Yankees, that doesn’t mean Clint Frazier or Justus Sheffield or even Miguel Andujar. But considering that Reed could provide protection in case Betances can’t solve his walk issues or simply add needed bullpen depth, the Yankees should be willing to give up a prospect with value.
Maybe it’s Class-A righthander Albert Abreu, or 19-year-old power-hitting third baseman Dermis Garcia, or 20-year-old righthander Drew Finley, all of whom scouts believe have considerable promise.
If some other team makes a better offer, all the better. But otherwise this is one time when the Mets and Yankees would be smart to overlook their fear of back-page consequences and do what’s in their best interests.
That is, make the deal.
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