When the Mets traded former closer Billy Wagner to the Boston Red Sox, it was clear to everyone that there was only motive behind the deal: to save money. Many Met fans have pointed to the deal as a sign of the cheapness of Fred 'Coupon' since the Mets would have been better off letting Wagner go in the offseason and taking the draft picks instead. I disagree.
Trading Wagner saved the Mets somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million - the $3.7mm from Wagner's contract, and the money that the draft picks would have cost. If the Mets take that money and apply it to next year's payroll, they can certainly get an established, useful player that can help the team NOW. Consider the following players, and think about how much of an impact each would have on the Mets in 2010:
Each of these players earn right around that $5mm mark. The Mets' window on winning is closing fast - a great number of players are free agents after the 2011 season. Those players include Carlos Beltran, Frankie Rodriguez, Luis Castillo, John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Jose Reyes. The team really has to look at doing everything they can to win it all in the next two years. There probably is going to be a rebuilding effort in 2012 anyway, so management has to go all out to captialize on the current group of stars before they grow old or require huge contracts.
The draft picks are a big gamble - one which won't pay off for at least 3-4 years anyway. The Mets made the easy decision to trade a guy who had no value to them and put that money to use when it could help them.
The proof on the outcome of this deal will come in the offeason. If Omar Minaya uses the money saved to obtain a player like those above then it was a big win for the Mets and their fans.