WASHINGTON, DC – The Mets are in the nation’s capital for three matches with the Washington Nationals.
As of Monday morning, Juan Soto is still here.
From a convenience standpoint, there would be no better time for Billy Appler to pounce. Dealing for Soto will give the Mets another bat they’ve been craving, and instead of throwing everything in a suitcase and running for the next flight (as in Tyler Nuquin did it over the weekend To meet the Mets in Miami), Soto could walk down a hallway from the National Clubhouse to visitors.
I wish life was that easy.
The Mets haven’t been seriously linked with Soto in any recent talks, and the general consensus is that if they’re going to land Gen Z Ted Williams, they’ll also have to part ways with 20-year-old phenom Francisco Alvarez. As is probably the top-five team prospects Brett Batty or Mark Vientos.
With citizens living in the same division as the Mets, as well as the fact that Washington is absolutely not required to trade Soto on the deadline, the chances are slim. There is a growing belief that, unless the Nationals are offered the Godfather, they will capture Soto and reevaluate the situation in the off-season. In addition to how dire the optics of Soto’s business within the NL East – then remaining Nuts fans will have to watch him play with his new team in National Park – there is also talk of the team being sold at the end of the season.
Citizen owners understand that the value of a franchise with Soto is enormous. team is essential to sell, and it benefits both the current regime and those with potential to be one of the sport’s brightest stars whenever the club changes hands. So, if Soto stays and the Mets can’t hit a 600-foot home run in the Shohei Ohtani trade, their eyes turn to the next level of players available.
Getting a Wilson Contreras-David Robertson package from the Cubs actually makes a lot of sense for the Mets. They need a catcher (Contreras’ 132 wRC+ is tied for first NL backstops) and a coveted reliever to shuttle the ball from the sterling starting rotation to Edwin Diaz’s firebrand arm. Robertson is 37 now, but he has a 2.23 ERA this season, turns left wing, and most importantly, has appeared in 33 postseason games.
The problem with a trade that makes too much sense is, well, it makes too much sense. The Cubs are not going anywhere in 2022, but they can certainly strengthen their team for the future. Knowing they have a few things going for the Mets, it’s clearly worth it for them to get the best possible deal, which means gunning for premium prospects from the Mets’ farm. Whether Appler’s front office is comfortable with this probably comes in the dilemma of trying to win it in a few months, ensuring the team is set up for lasting success in the back half of the decade.
Contreras and Robertson certainly move the needle for 2022, but both will be hitting free agency this winter, and any player who trades the Mets for them will torment the franchise for well over this year. could. Banners hang on forever, sure, but if one of the kids involved in the business becomes a perennial All-Star, it could be catastrophic. Moving the top-five prospects for a rental is bad business, and likely hinders the Mets in the Contreras-Robertson business unless Chicago lowers their asking price.
Should the Mets really be doing business with civilians while in DC, getting a guy like Josh Bell or Kelly Finnegan is more realistic than Soto’s. Bale risks being a bit redundant now that the Mets have added Daniel Vogelbach, another first baseman/DH. But Bell is a much better overall hitter than Vogelbach, and his .861 ops against the left wing means he won’t be put on platoon duty. Ringing the bell in DH every day and Vogelbach will only get the Mets in better shape than needed, but that’s all fiction, of course, and they’ll have to pay NL East tax in any swap with Washington.
Finnegan, a 30-year-old Wrighty who is the best reliever in the Nets bullpen, is the exact type of player Washington sees no reason to keep. No position group goes from zero to 100 like relief pitchers from one season to the next, and while Finnegan is pitching well now, that doesn’t mean he continues to pitch well with age. Will keep If the Mets can get just three more good months out of their hands, trading some minor league filler is worth it.
The main priority for the Mets over the next three days at the DMV is to do national-wide extensive work, which is an easily doable task. That would give them nine consecutive wins, more wins in the bank as they try to finish a top-two seeded finish in the National League and first-round byes in the new playoff format, with more steam building up in the five-game with the Braves. Conflict.
If they have Soto for that Atlanta series, great, but it’s as much a chance as the team announcing that Mr. and Mrs. Mate has filed for divorce. There are a lot of avenues that still make the team better and the future isn’t as mortifying, which may be disappointing for some, but that’s what Appler should ultimately do.