The New York Mets entered Tuesday's doubleheader against the Miami Marlins at 12-14 and three games back of first place in the National League East—a team good enough to contend for a postseason spot, but probably not deep enough to stick around if they got in.
That leaves the franchise in a tumultuous position with a week to go until the MLB trade deadline, and it's partly why those around the league believe New York could become a "surprise player" in the days ahead.
Per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal:
"A rival executive predicts the Mets will be a 'surprising player' at the trade deadline, reasoning the team gained financial flexibility when right-hander Marcus Stroman and outfielder Yoenis Céspedes opted out of the 2020 season. Other executives expect Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to be aggressive as he tries to save his job with the sale of the team nearing completion. And still others believe the Wilpon ownership will endorse one last postseason push before they yield control of the club...
"The opt-outs of Stroman and Céspedes, though, created present-day savings of about $6.5 million in both the cash and luxury-tax payrolls. Céspedes also was on track to earn an additional $6.67 million in plate appearances tied to incentives. The Mets, whose financial issues are well-documented, might not want to reinvest that money. But in theory, they should be in position to take advantage of their newfound flexibility at the deadline, at least in their pursuits of players under contract through 2020. With such deals, the normal sliding scale would apply. The more money the Mets took on, the lesser the cost would be in prospects."
Some of the likeliest names on the market would also meet a variety of the Mets' needs.
Kevin Gausman, Robbie Day, Brett Anderson, Taijuan Walker and Lance Lynn have all prominently been featured in trade rumors lately and a pitching-desperate New York could absorb some of the larger contracts. That may be the best thing the club has going for it at this point.
There's a number of young, talented players the Mets won't want to part with, but the team's farm system is ranked No. 20 by MLB Pipeline with just four Top 100 prospects. Trading the future for a rental pitcher in a shortened season might not be worth the risk.
Noah Syndergaard's elbow surgery, coupled with the season-long slumps of Pete Alonso (.247/.375/.441, five home runs), Jeff McNeil (.269/.333/.328, eight RBI) and Rick Porcello (5.76 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 25 IP), haven't derailed the club this season, but it's made life much more difficult.
The question remains how much New York is willing to give up now in order to make it happen. While the club's playoff position remains tenuous, there's not time to watch the trade market develop without an answer.