There is no question the Mets went from being contenders to being out of the race extremely fast. Thats what happens when you lose 12 out of 13 games. So, does the fact that it is unlikely the Mets could compete for a playoff spot automatically keep them from adding on to their team? They almost cannot sell, since Scott Hairston and Tim Byrdak are not considered big pieces. Even if they are moved, it matters very little since they are both free agents after the season. Assistant GM John Ricco has said that any moves made will be made to benefit the team in 2013, essentially meaning two things. First, he will not trade somebody for minor leaguers that will not be ready to play in the bog leagues next year. And secondly, the Mets are not looking for a rental player; any trade made will likely result in a player who will be around in 2013.
So, that being said, its safe to say ideas are being tossed around. The Mets rejected a trade with San Diego that would have send 2B Daniel Murphy to the Padres for RHP Luke Gregorson. I would assume any move made would involve the bullpen as top priority. Three pitchers I'd like to see the Mets take a look at are Seattle's Tom Wilhelmson, Colorado's Matt Belisle and Miami's Steve Cishek.
Wilhelmson was a pitcher who I thought would have a big season. He's 28, not arbitration eligible until 2015 and is under team control until 2018. This season he is 3-2, 2.26 with 12 saves in 46 games for the Mariners. He has 62 Ks in 51 1/3 IP. He will not be had for nothing, but the Mets may be able to help the Mariners offense situation with guys like Matt den Dekker, Reese Havens and Juan Lagares. Not all in the same trade, but the point is, the Mets could add Wilhelmson without giving up their best prospects and have it be a fair deal for both teams.
Belisle is 32 years old and took a little while to develop as a solid reliever. The Rockies rewarded him with a 3 year $10+ million deal before the 2011 season which means he will be under contract through 2013. 2014 calls for a $4.25 million option with a $250 K buyout. He will be paid $4.15 million for the 2013 season. He is 3-2, 2.25 in 48 games and has 45 strikeouts in 52 IP. And obviously, could come cheaper than Wilhelmson since Belisle is older.
Cishek interests me, and I understand that teams usually do not look to make moves within their own division. The last time the Mets and Marlins made a deal, the Mets acquired Jason Vargas for Matt Lindstrom. I would expect a young position player to go back in a trade like this, but one that the Marlins could use in the bigs this season, perhaps Havens. Ciskek is 4-1, 1.93 with 3 saves in 48 games. He also has 40 Ks in 41 1/3 IP. Similar to Wilhelmson, he is arbitration eligible in 2015 and a free agent in 2018. And though Havens still has the talent to be a good MLB player, to me it seems like a deal that could help both teams.
When it comes to adding a backup catcher, it is fair to say that many catchers have disappointed this season. After a big year in 2012, Miguel Olivo is hitting .202. Geovanny Soto is hitting .193 and John Buck is hitting .172. It makes Mike Nickeas not seem like a bad hitter. I was more gung-ho about adding a catcher until it was proven there are no go-to options. Ramon Hernandez makes the most sense, assuming the Mets give up very little and there is enough thought that Hernandez could still hit. Not only this year, but next season being he is still owed $3.2 million for 2013. Maybe the Mets think better options will be around in the offseason, something I would not fault them for.
I would take a shot on either Cishek, Belisle or Wilhelmson, in that order. Any one would stabilize a bullpen that has been as bad as it could be. And even if the Mets do not have another push left in the before the season is over, the pitcher will be part of the mix for 2013, a season which will have a lot more expectation than the last two for the New York Mets.