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New York Mets Trade Deadline Recap - This Is Sports Zone

The New York Mets 2016 season is in serious peril, with David Wright, Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey, Juan Lagares and Jose Reyes all on the disabled list; Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Asrubal Cabrera and Yeonis Cespedes batting their own ailments; and an offense that ranks among the worst in the league. Last year’s trading deadline, which saw the Mets in a similar position, brought Yeonis Cespedes on board along with other key pieces that eventually led the team to their first playoff berth in nine years, and their first World Series since 2000. This year, general manager Sandy Alderson tried to bring in Milwaukee catcher Jonathon Lucroy and add some bullpen arms, but when those plans fell through, he traded prospect second baseman Dilson Herrera and 19-year-old lefty Max Wotell to the Cincinnati Reds for power hitter Jay Bruce, and brought back long-time Met Jon Niese from the Pittsburgh Pirates for failed free agent signing Antonio Bastardo.

On the surface, the Bruce trade seems like one that could reinvigorate the offense much the way Cespedes did one year ago. At the age of 29, he is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career, having made the All-Star team this year with 25 home runs and an NL-leading 80 RBI to go along with a .265 batting average, which is his highest since 2010. It’s not a bad move, and the cost isn’t a killer, but the problem is the fit with the Mets given their needs. They already have left-handed outfielders in Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto playing next to Cespedes, with none of them truly suited to playing center field, which is the team’s most pressing area of need given the injury to Lagares, and while they did just sign veteran Justin Ruggiano to a deal over the weekend to fill that need, he’s nothing more than a journeyman, and he could be joining the disabled list himself after leaving Monday night’s game in the third inning with a hamstring strain.

Plus, they gave up Dilson Herrera, who the team once thought so highly of they used him as the primary reason they didn’t want to commit long-term money to Daniel Murphy to play second base. Herrera may be unproven, he might still be raw but it just seems odd to give up on someone they once thought of as their future second baseman for a guy who has been as streaky as Bruce over the course of his career, even if they are catching him during his best season and would get to enjoy the benefits of him being in a contract year next year. At the press conference announcing the move, Alderson stated that things have changed in that they have more options at the position behind incumbant Neil Walker (a free agent after this season), including having Reyes and Cabrera signed for one more season, Wilmer Flores still on board, and prospect Gavin Cecchini (primarily a shortstop) getting closer to the big league club while currently playing in Triple-A. The 19-year-old Wotell is not a big loss at this stage due to his youth and the likelihood of him still being years away but again, it is somewhat questionable to give up a potential future starter for a player who didn’t even fill the team’s big need- a right-handed hitter who could balance out all the lefty hitters while being able to play in center field, especially when the rest of the options are basically players who don’t primarily play the position.

And the Mets get Jon Niese back. The same Jon Niese who had a 61-61 record for the team in his eight seasons in Queens and has been horrible this year playing for the Pirates. At his best, Niese is an average starting pitcher who can string together a few quality starts here and there and show flashes that make one think that maybe he’s turned a corner. At his worst, he follows those starts up with ones where he can’t get out of the third inning and make one wonder what they were thinking in the first place. He showed the ability to pitch strong out of the bullpen in the playoffs last season, and Alderson said he would return to that roll this year, but in all likelihood he could return the rotation in a few weeks in Logan Verrett doesn’t start pitching better as the fifth starter. Bastardo is not a huge loss, given how poorly he has pitched over the last month, but Niese is nothing to get excited about.

And then, we look at what the rest of the league did, and it makes one feel that the Mets have severely fallen behind in the quest for the playoffs and a return to the World Series. The Cubs fortified their bullpen with Aroldis Chapman, Mike Montgomery and Joe Smith (the former Met the team had actually attempted to trade for days earlier). The Nationals grabbed another closer themselves trading for Mark Melancon. The Marlins even added starter Andrew Cashner. The Giants brought in Matt Moore to join their rotation and lefty reliever Will Smith (another guy the Mets attempted to get) to shore up the bullpen. And what happened to Lucroy? He went to the Texas Rangers (along with reliever Jeremy Jeffries…..who the Mets also attempted to trade for) for two prospects and a player to be named later.

Again, bringing in Bruce and Niese were not terrible deals. But the fact is these were mere consolation prizes considering what they were originally trying for. They wanted an upgrade at catcher- they couldn’t get it. They wanted an upgrade in the bullpen- they couldn’t get it, so let’s bring back Niese instead and hope for the best. They wanted to upgrade the offense by bringing in a right-handed hitter who could play center field- they couldn’t get it, so let’s bring in another left-handed corner outfield type who has tended to be homer or nothing for the majority of his career- HELLO, BRUCE!!!

If I am grading the New York Mets deadline deals, I give them a C+, because while they are not terrible, they really don’t bring them any closer to salvaging the season and making the playoffs than they were yesterday. Maybe Bruce hits another 20 homers and turns into Cespedes 2.0, but maybe he doesn’t.

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