Posted by Reese Kaplan at 10:00 AM
Ernest Dove just penned a good analysis of the Mets bullpen for the upcoming season. Gone seem to be the days when the team would struggle to find 5-7 capable arms, turning to people like Pedro Beato, Blaine Boyer and Manny Acosta. Now, in addition to shutdown closer Jeurys Familia, the team can offer up Antonio Bastardo, Addison Reed, Erik Goeddel, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles and others. Even with the announcement that they've cut ties to Carlos Torres, the Mets still have Josh Edgin, Rafael Montero, Logan Verrett and Sean Gilmartin ready to step up should any of these stalwarts fail.
What's interesting to me, however, is not necessarily the depth of the bullpen, but the fact that in all likelihood Gilmartin, Montero and Verrett will be stretched out as starters in Las Vegas. On the surface it seems unlikely they will be needed with the stellar rotation of Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Noah Syndergaard, Steve Matz and Bartolo Colon taking the ball every five days for the big club. What then does it mean to have this kind of depth at the front and back end of ballgames?
Last year's flurry of personnel changes in the second half that brought Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Eric O'Flaherty to the Mets came at a somewhat hefty price. It meant the departures of Casey Meisner, Matt Koch, Miller Diaz, Michael Fulmer, John Gant, Rob Whalen and Darwin Frias to acquire these players that (with the exception of O'Flaherty) helped propel the Mets to their first World Series appearance in 15 years. Given the resulting success of these moves, pretty much anyone would do it again in a heartbeat. However, all of these one-way tickets for prospects left the system a bit barren of future chips should the need arise to bolster the major league roster once again.
This time, however, the players the Mets have to offer up in trade may come at a higher level with a greater predictability for success. Take Rafael Montero, for example. Despite a rocky appearance in Las Vegas and health problems during the past year, his track record is undeniable. He soared through the farm system with ease and owns an impressive minor league record of 35-20 with a 2.72 ERA and 4 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. If he can get back on track then he opens up not only trade possibilities to begin his major league career elsewhere, but also the very real possibility of considering a Matt Harvey trade to shore up the offense with another organization's under-control bats with Montero stepping into the Mets' rotation.
A lot of space has been occupied with conjecture that the Mets would not be able to pony up what it would take to keep the young guns in Queens as they reach their free agency years. Consequently, it would appear they are also playing both sides against the middle, trying to bring other inexpensive arms into the mix should a trade need to be made. Zack Wheeler's return muddies the picture further. Yes, Bartolo Colon can slide to the bullpen where he performed well in the World Series last year, but that transition does nothing to help with the 2017 season and beyond.
The question I pose to the readers today is what would be considered an equitable return for Matt Harvey should he wind up on the trading block? Would it be a regular player with some proven track record such as Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts, or would it be some other club's top 2-3 prospects?