It never seems to get better for Mets fans.
Expectations were extremely high for the Mets coming into the season. The reigning Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom, was returning, along with Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, who pitched as well in the second half last season as Aaron Nola.
Edwin Diaz, the best closer in baseball last season, was acquired, along with Robinson Cano, who was clearly declining and has a bad contract but still hit .292 with an .840 OPS the previous three seasons.
And yet here are the Mets, less than a week from the trade deadline and in position to potentially move one or more of Syndergaard, Wheeler and Diaz.
The belief, for a while, was that Wheeler was the most realistic trade candidate. He's a free agent after the season and teams that are 12½ games out around the trade deadline typically sell those pieces. But according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mets may go in a different direction. They may choose instead to trade Syndergaard and look to extend Wheeler.
That approach would make a lot of sense. Syndergaard offers the Mets a chance to rebuild the farm system with top-end talent in a way that trading Wheeler cannot. The Padres have long coveted Syndergaard, and the Twins have also reportedly shown strong interest.
Truth be told, Syndergaard is a lot better in theory than he's been in reality. He has a 4.33 ERA in 20 starts this season. He's struck out just under a batter per inning despite possessing four-seam and two-seam fastballs that routinely touch 98-99 mph. He's hittable surprisingly often. His control is so strong that batters know they'll get a pitch in the zone. He can't hold runners on. He doesn't go especially deep into games, often finding himself at 100-105 pitches through six innings.
There is a perception that Syndergaard is an ace. He's not an ace. He's very good, but he might provide the Mets more value in a trade than he could going out there every fifth day the next couple seasons.
As for Diaz ... how ironic it would be if the Mets did trade him before Wednesday's deadline. It probably won't happen. First-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenen traded arguably the Mets' top two prospects, outfielder Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Justin Dunn, in addition to taking on $100 million-plus of Cano's contract, to acquire Diaz. It was an extremely bold move. Van Wagenen hadn't even gotten an up-close look at what Kelenic and Dunn could do.
It has worked out disastrously, with Diaz having the worst season of his career and the Mets being uncompetitive early in the summer. The optics of trading Diaz for less than it cost to acquire him would be awful, especially for a first-year GM and especially in New York. Selling low is illogical.
The Mets, though, figure to be one of the most active sellers at the deadline. Beyond these three pitchers, Todd Frazier is also likely to be moved.
Two guys who will be going nowhere are rookies Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso. McNeil leads the majors with a .340 batting average and Alonso already has 34 home runs in 102 games. It's pretty incredible how bad the Mets are despite the eye-popping contributions of that duo.
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