"There was just too strong a market," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "And at the same time, we also felt that for the long-term benefit of the organization, we needed to do something, even if it meant the Major League club taking a hit for the last two months."
That something landed the Mets pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, in a deal the two teams finalized early Thursday afternoon. In exchange for Beltran and cash, the Mets imported a significant piece of future currency at the expense of some possible short-term success.
Alderson's reasoning was many-fold. Finally healthy, Beltran had been producing at an elite level for months, significantly boosting his trade value. The Mets, in Alderson's words, "hadn't made a lot of inroads" into the deficits they faced in the division and Wild Card races, making a playoff berth unlikely despite their relatively strong play. And several teams in both leagues had begun expressing serious interest, increasing the level of prospect the Mets could receive in return.
Though Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, played a role in dictating the outfielder's final destination, Alderson said that he had "some latitude" in making the deal of his choice, to a team in either the National or American League. And so he did. In acquiring Wheeler, Alderson spurned packages of lesser prospects that would have offered his farm system some diversification.
"We were looking for big upside," Alderson said. "We could have gotten a package of three players from a number of clubs, but the overall potential of those players would not have equaled Zack's potential."
And so a deal was struck and officially completed more than three days before Sunday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. Though Alderson said the Mets will still consider other trades if another team bowls them over with an offer, he is reluctant to further dismantle his team.
"By trading Carlos, we've made it a little tougher on our remaining players and the Mets club," Alderson said, referencing this month's trade of closer Francisco Rodriguez. "There's no question about that. I certainly acknowledge that.
"I'd be very reluctant to make it any tougher on them."
Still, questions remain for the Mets, who decided weeks ago that they would not trade star shortstop Jose Reyes. In dealing both Beltran and Rodriguez, the Mets saved roughly $5 million in cash, which Alderson indicated will be used for baseball operations at his discretion.
"What does it say about Jose Reyes?" Alderson said. "I don't know -- $5 million is not going to get him signed. But at the same time, the fact that I expect him to be with us the rest of the season and that we hope to engage with him in the offseason, I think is a good sign for the organization."