NEW YORK -- Long gone are the days when the Mets would always be in the thick of midseason trade conversations. In recent years, the front office has grown more prudent, which does not figure to change in 2014.
General manager Sandy Alderson admitted as much at the start of a just-completed 10-game road trip through San Diego, Seattle and Milwaukee, noting that the club's performance would dictate his strategy leading up to Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline at 4 p.m. ET. At the time, the Mets were coming off their best stretch of the season, an 8-2 homestand that transformed them from certain sellers into potential buyers.
But the Mets scuffled a bit out of the break, muddying their situation. In any case, the Mets are not necessarily going to fit neatly under the categories of "buyers" or "sellers;" more likely, they will look to make moves with 2015 -- not some other indeterminate date in the future -- in mind.
"I don't think we would deal significant prospects or significant value for somebody who is going to help us for a couple of months," Alderson said. "We spent too much time improving our Minor League system and setting ourselves up for the future to commit significant resources to somebody in a deal that is only going to help us for a short period of time. In that sense, we would probably be looking for somebody who can help us longer term as well."
When they have completed midseason transactions under Alderson in the past, the Mets have almost exclusively been midseason sellers -- and the deals have generally worked out well. In 2011, the Mets dealt Carlos Beltran to the Giants for Zack Wheeler, in a transaction that has already paid handsome dividends. Two years later, the Mets dealt Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates in a post-Deadline waiver deal that landed them Vic Black and Dilson Herrera.
In both instances, it was clear that the Mets needed to deal those players. This year, no such certainties exist, making it quite possible that the Mets -- as Alderson has hinted for much of this month -- may simply do nothing at all.
Certainly, they will not be aggressive sellers. Alderson has already bristled when asked about the possibility of trading second baseman Daniel Murphy, the team's lone All-Star. Though the Mets will have to listen to offers for Murphy, who is under team control for just one more season, they are not keen on the idea of trading him.
Dealing starting pitcher Bartolo Colon seems more feasible. Also under contract for one more season, Colon has performed well this year, but is no lock to continue doing so at age 41. The Mets also have plenty of in-house replacements, with a potential 2015 rotation competition shaping up to include Matt Harvey, Wheeler, Jon Niese, Jacob deGrom, Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. Keeping Colon only makes sense if the Mets seriously believe they can make a playoff run this summer or if they need to deal away one of their young pitchers to shore up another part of their roster.
Right now, doing little or nothing seems more likely.
"We like the team as it's developing," Alderson said. "So I think that, in and of itself, would make us reluctant to move players at the Deadline. Now, we're practical as well. We've made deals at the Deadline, and there's no reason we hesitate to do that if it's the right thing. I think our team is on the right track, and as I've said on occasion, I don't think we're that far away. That would indicate some caution when it comes to the Trade Deadline."