Sandy Alderson wants the Mets to remain competitive for the remainder of the reason. So the GM will not be trading off pieces to clear room for prospects to play unless the organization receives a noteworthy return.
"What we've been trying to do for the last several years is stockpile talent, clear payroll with significant complications, and then be as competitive as we can possibly be without sacrificing Nos. 1 and 2,” Alderson said. “In order for us to sacrifice No. 3 [competitiveness], it has to be a material advantage in talent for us to do that. Is that going to happen? I don't know."
Here’s the case for the three July 31 trade-deadline scenarios:
New York Mets
1. Sell. Marlon Byrd would figure to be an attractive piece for a contender because of his production (.271, 15 HR, 51 RBIs) and because he is making only $700,000 this season. Of course, the low salary -- less than $280,000 remains owed -- means the Mets will not feel compelled to trade him unless they get a hefty return. Remember, the Mets did not trade Scott Hairston last July, then let him walk.
In a dream scenario, Frank Francisco returns before the end of the month and the Mets can find a taker. Francisco has started a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League and is owed $2.6 million for the remainder of the season on his original two-year, $12 million deal.
Francisco should be able to get traded in August, too, because no one would dare put in a claim on his contract. If someone were to put in a claim to block an August trade, the Mets could just dump the remaining contract on that team.
With Travis d’Arnaud no better than a September call-up, the Mets figure to hold onto John Buck. His production has dipped so drastically anyway it is unclear there would actually be a market.
One relatively productive Met in the final year of a contract: 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins.
The Dodgers were scouting the Mets in Pittsburgh, for whatever that’s worth.
Chicago White Sox
2. Buy. The Mets would not be buyers in the traditional sense, in that a team rents a player for a run at the postseason. After all, despite better play of late, the Mets are double digits off the division and wild-card leads.
The Mets would look for an outfielder with power who remains under control beyond this season. While the names Carlos Gonzalez, Giancarlo Stanton and Andre Ethier often get mentioned, the odds are none of those players gets dealt this month.
Alderson has acknowledged speaking with one team about a player under control for 2014, although he did not specify which team.
New York Mets
3. Stand pat. This is not exactly glamorous, but it would be consistent with the Mets' recent history -- with the exception of shipping off Carlos Beltran two years ago to the San Francisco Giants in the final year of his deal for Zack Wheeler.
In Parnell’s case, he has been solid in the closer’s role and is making only $1.7 million this season. Parnell is under the Mets’ control through the 2015 season, although his salary should start to dramatically rise because he is eligible for arbitration both years.
As for Murphy, is he the long-term answer at second base? Who knows? But the Mets need non-marquee pieces to build around, too. And Murphy’s bat, despite lulls, contributes enough to warrant holding onto unless there is some dramatic offer.