Reports—like this one from ESPN's Adam Rubin—suggested the Mets would “stand pat” and that’s exactly what they did. The Mets kept their roster intact while holding onto top commodities Bobby Parnell and Marlon Byrd, who are both amidst career-best seasons.
The Mets entertained offers for Byrd, but a trade never materialized due to their lofty demands. As for Parnell, the Mets said they would have needed to be “blown away” to deal the 28-year-old closer and never got close as a result.
For better or worse, the trade deadline passed without a deal. Here’s three moves that general manager Sandy Alderson should’ve made before the deadline.
Trade Marlon Byrd
The 35-year-old Byrd is enjoying the best season of his 12-year career. He currently leads the Mets in home runs (17) and RBI (60).
His 2.8 WAR ranks 14th among all MLB outfielders, according to FanGraphs. There’s no denying that Byrd’s play has vastly exceeded anyone’s reasonable expectations when he was signed this past offseason.
Did the Mets make a mistake by not trading Byrd?
But the fact remains that Byrd is under a one-year, $700,000 contract and is unlikely to be on the team next season.
Sure, the Mets were only being offered low-level prospects for Byrd, according to MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone, but that’s better than nothing. The Mets demand for top prospects in return for two months of Byrd’s services was unreasonable at best.
New York intended to keep Byrd heading into the trade deadline in order to salvage, in their own words, “2013 competitiveness.”
Meanwhile, the Mets stand at 49-60 and are 10.5 games out of a wild-card spot. Reaching the .500 mark for the first time since 2008 is a checkpoint on the way to contention but not a singular goal. Now, it’s become an even greater challenge with David Wright on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury.
Like Scott Hairston in 2012, Alderson’s decision to hold onto Byrd is a perplexing one. The Mets should’ve leveraged Byrd’s surprising career-best season into additional prospects but instead will have nothing to show for it.
Trade John Buck
John Buck struggled for much of May and June following a white-hot April in which he hit nine home runs and drove in 25 runs. In the next two months, Buck hit just .190/.267/.288 with four home runs and 14 RBI.
However, the 33-year-old turned it around in July by contributing his second-most productive month of the season. He hit just one homer, but his 14 RBI matched his total from the previous two months combined.
For the season, Buck is hitting a meager .216/.281/.374, but his 56 RBI rank him second on the Mets.
The Mets should’ve capitalized on Buck’s recent hot streak and traded him to a contender seeking a solid defensive catcher with some pop in his bat. Buck is even less likely than Byrd to be on the team next season with top prospect Travis d’Arnaud in line to take over the starting role in 2014.
New York wouldn’t have garnered much in return for Buck, but Alderson should’ve taken a chance on low-level prospects maturing into useful major league players.
Trade for Alex Rios
This upcoming offseason, the Mets will be seeking to acquire position players on their quest to return to contention. The Mets could’ve acquired 32-year-old Alex Rios rather than getting into a bidding war for the services of Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo.
Rios’ 12 home runs, 55 RBI and .751 OPS don’t jump off the page, but he’s playing for one of the worst offensive teams in MLB. He’s also stolen 25 bases and plays a strong defensive right field.
In 2012, Rios hit 25 home runs and drove in 91 runs.
Rios is owed $26 million over the next two seasons but has a buyout option for $1 million prior to the 2015 season. There’s a reasonable chance that the Chicago White Sox would’ve picked up a portion of Rios’ salary just to dump his contract.
In return for Rios, Alderson could’ve dealt one of his young starters. There won’t be room in next season’s rotation for Jeremy Hefner, Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia.
Another option would’ve been to deal a prospect like Wilmer Flores, who was just called up to the Mets after hitting .321 with 15 home runs in Triple-A, but doesn’t have a position on the Mets with second and third base occupied.
For roughly the same salary of Boston Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino, the Mets could’ve traded for Rios and plugged him into their everyday lineup.