Of all the trade deadlines in the four major sports—baseball, basketball, football, and hockey—baseball’s is the most intriguing.
Why? Simple. The extensive minor league systems allow a contender to trade for a major player without having to give up a piece of the present.
Consequently, trades are made at a rapid pace before the July 31 deadline.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they always work for the team giving up the minor-league prospects. There is a proper time where a long-contending team deals away prospects to extend their run. The trade that brought David Justice to the Bronx in 2000 from Cleveland for prospects Ricky Ledee, Jake Westbrook, and Zach Day is a good example of the sort.
While Justice was a big part of the Yankees’ winning their fourth World Series title in five years in 2000—he was named ALCS MVP—Ledee, Westbrook, and Day all hung around the majors for at least five years but none became major stars. (Westbrook did make the All-Star team in 2004 but never garnered any Cy Young votes in his career.)
But what the young and pitching-talented Mets should be looking to do, is to mortgage their future for someone else’s.
They have an abundance of young talent in the pitching department. Noah Syndergaard (22 years old), Zack Wheeler (23), Steven Matz (24), Matt Harvey (26), and Jacob deGrom (27) form one of the better young collections of starting pitchers in recent history.
But to send one of them in a trade for a great offensive veteran talent—like Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzk—would be risking too much future for not enough present.
Tulowitzki is 30 and he hasn’t played in more than 126 games since 2011, and players tend to decline quickly after blowing out 30 candles.
Instead the Mets should look to swap one of their pitching prospects for a hitting prospect—like one of the Cubs’ many hitting prospects.
Chicago probably isn’t giving up young star Kris Bryant anytime soon, but they have others to deal. Right fielder Jorge Soler is just 23 and the Cubs thought enough of the Cuban star that they gave him a nine-year, $30 million deal back in 2012. Currently he has a .452 slugging percentage through 77 career games.
More realistic possibilities are middle infielders Starlin Castro and Addison Russell. The three-time All-Star shortstop Castro, still only 25, is in his sixth season and has previously led the league in hits (207 in 2011) and owns a .281 career average.
Russell, a natural shortstop who has moved to second base to play with Castro, was a top-five rated prospect heading into this season after hitting .301 in four minor-league seasons. Still only 21, his value has diminished a tad because of his low average (.227) through 67 games this season.