With the talent and depth that the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves possess, the New York Mets aren't expected to contend for the postseason in 2013. If that happens, the Mets likely would be sellers at the trade deadline as they continue to build for the future.
Zack Wheeler and Travis D'Arnaud are waiting in the wings for their major league call-ups, and the Mets are a few outfielders and a starting pitcher away from being a perennial contender for many years.
Here are three Mets who could be on the trading block by the time the trade deadline approaches in late July.
Lucas Duda could possibly be a big part of the Mets' future, but much depends on how well he hits.
The Mets have stuck with him this long because of it. Despite a 15-home run and 57 RBI season in 2012, Duda has a lot of potential. He already has a home run this year and has five hits in his first eight at-bats.
But Duda's defense in left field remains a work in progress. He isn't agile and doesn't cover much ground although left field at Citi Field isn't as vast as right field. If the left field experiment fails, the Mets will be forced to trade Duda to a team in need of a first baseman.
At this point, the Mets look as if they will commit to current first baseman Ike Davis long-term, and that's the proper approach.
If Duda indeed becomes expendable this summer, the Mets should trade him to a team such as the Oakland A's, Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay Rays that could use an upgrade at first base. In return, the Mets should try to get a more natural outfielder that has at least a decent bat.
It will be interesting to see how Duda's season unfolds, but hopefully, the Mets will make the right move if he does not live up to expectations again this year.
John Buck's time as the Mets' starting catcher is mostly dependent on when and if D'Arnaud is ready for the major leagues this year. If D'Arnaud is ready by June or July, Buck's time with the Mets could come to an end unless he sticks around as the backup.
After batting just .192 in 2012, Buck has already homered twice this season and was hitting well throughout spring training. Defensively, he is an upgrade over Josh Thole and hopefully, his mentoring can help the pitching staff and eventually D'Arnaud when he comes up.
If the Mets trade Buck, it would likely be to a contending team that would be looking for a catching upgrade or a right-handed hitting platoon catcher. The cross-town Yankees would be one option if they are in the hunt, as would the A's, Reds and Rays.
Mets reliever Frank Francisco still has pain in his elbow, which has resulted with his season starting on the disabled list. It's unknown how long Francisco's recovery will take or whether he'll even be effective when he returns.
If Francisco does get healthy and pitches well in a setup or middle relief role, it's possible he could draw interest on the trade market. Just about every contending team always could use a bullpen upgrade and because Francisco is in the final year of his contract, his services would only be temporary.
Francisco had a disappointing season in 2012 that was highlighted by a career-high 5.53 ERA, but if he can get himself together this year, he could be an effective hard-throwing pitcher for any team. He isn't an ideal closer, but could be successful as a setup man or middle reliever.
If the Mets could find a way to unload Francisco, it would be a step in the right direction for the franchise.