As SNY’s Andy Martino reported on Aug. 17, the Mets tried to interest the Cubs in a megadeal that would’ve sent Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel, Baez, and Williams to the Mets in exchange for “top prospects,” but the possible deal “died on the vine.”
On Friday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Mets would’ve sent Crow-Armstrong, an additional prospect they “regarded even more highly” than Crow-Armstrong, and a major leaguer still under multiple seasons of team control in the proposed megadeal.
However, Rosenthal noted that as the Mets were “debating whether to push forward,” they learned that Jacob deGrom had suffered a major setback as he was working his way back from an elbow injury.
The Mets soon opted to make the trade for Baez and Williams.
The day after New York swung the deal for Baez shortly after finding out about deGrom’s setback, I argued that the Mets did the right thing by not going all-in at the deadline, tweeting:
They found out around 1 PM on deadline day that deGrom was kind of (screwed). I actually think they did the right thing by not going all-in. This isn’t a championship team without deGrom.
It now appears that part of the Mets’ thinking on deadline day revolved around a line of thought similar to the one I touched on. Specifically, why go all-in if they’re possibly going to be without their ace for the remainder of the regular season and postseason?
Would the additions of Bryant and Kimbrel have further solidified the Mets? That is inarguable.
Would they have been a serious World Series threat with Bryant and Kimbrel but without deGrom or another ace? Probably not. And there were no aces available to the Mets at the deadline.
The Mets need to save their chips to go for it with deGrom, not use their chips to go all-in without him.
And the most important part of the equation here was what else the Mets would’ve had to give up to take their one shot with Bryant, Kimbrel, and Baez but very likely without deGrom, who remains shut down due to elbow inflammation and is running out of time to make it back this season.
If the Mets thought higher of the other prospect who would’ve been in the trade than they thought of Crow-Armstrong, it stands to reason that the prospect could’ve been Brett Baty, Ronny Mauricio, or (gasp) Francisco Alvarez — a catcher the Cubs have coveted dating back to last offseason.
Either way, while a megadeal that brought Bryant, Baez, and Kimbrel to the Mets would’ve been amazing theater and incredibly exciting, it would’ve arguably been the wrong move for the franchise. Again, the Mets — even with all of those players — are very likely not a serious World Series contender without deGrom.
And while the Mets might have won the NL East with those players on board (and they still might win it without them if they ever decide to hit consistently and the Atlanta Braves ever decide to lose), the playoffs would have still been an uphill climb without deGrom, who would have been a difference-maker — possibly in Game 1 and Game 4 or 5 of the NLDS and in two or three games in both the NLCS and World Series.
The Mets know that.
There’s also the fact that Noah Syndergaard will likely be returning as a reliever, eliminating another potential top of the rotation option who could’ve helped cover for the loss of deGrom. Even if Syndergaard is back in the rotation at some point this season, he’ll still be a huge question mark after not pitching in the majors since 2019.
To reiterate, this is not an argument that the Mets should not have gone all-in under any circumstances.
Rather, it is an argument that their main goal should be to surround a Jacob deGrom-led team with as much muscle as possible in order to finally get deGrom on the mound at Citi Field for a playoff game (where he has never taken the ball in the postseason), and eventually secure a World Series title during the prime of the career of someone who could wind up being one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen.
In a world where they have a healthy deGrom at the top of their rotation in the playoffs, the Mets should be afraid of no one. Not the Los Angeles Dodgers, not the Milwaukee Brewers, and not any other National League contender.
Without deGrom, they are without their identity. And as hard as it is to hear, likely without much of a chance to win their first World Series since 1986.
The above does nothing to satisfy fans who want to see the Mets finally reach the top of the mountain again. And it’s understandable for some to have wanted to throw caution to the wind and make that proposed blockbuster with the Cubs, and/or send the Minnesota Twins a massive package for Jose Berrios.
But if the Mets mortgaged their future to make a run without deGrom only to perhaps watch Bryant and Baez walk after this season and Kimbrel walk after next season, the outcome would likely not have been good.
Now, the Mets should hope that whatever is causing the inflammation in deGrom’s elbow is minor enough that he’ll be back on the mound on Opening Day in 2022 and at full strength for the entire season and (hopefully) the 2022 postseason.
If the Mets get bad news on deGrom, they’ll have to go about finding a legitimate ace to replace him after there were no legitimate aces available to them at the trade deadline back in July.
As deGrom goes, so go the Mets. And as deGrom went down, a megadeal didn’t. The Mets made the right call.