Delcos: Mets Should Focus on Free Agents

Gotham_G_web (1)Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon won’t indicate what it is, but said his 2014 budget is close to being set. Whatever the budget, general manager Sandy Alderson better spend wisely because the Mets won’t do better dabbling in the trade market.

When you want to get something in a trade, you must have something of substance to offer and the Mets clearly don’t.

Losing Matt Harvey for the 2014 season because he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery impacts the Mets on several levels, including reducing their ability to execute trades. With a healthy Harvey, Alderson might have considered making a trade for a power bat by offering up a Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard.

With Harvey out, Alderson has three starters heading into spring training – Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler – so none of them are available to deal. And, with Jenrry Mejia recovering from elbow surgery, there’s a greater need to hold onto their pitching.

If not their pitching, the Mets have little to offer on the minor league level regarding position players who are major-league ready. If there’s nobody whom the Mets can bring up to help them, it also means there’s nothing they can trade to a team that wants to add to their major league roster.

On the major league level, the Mets have one star player capable of bringing something in return and that’s David Wright, assuming, of course, they could get anybody to bite on that contract. But, he has a no-trade, so it is pointless to discuss him.

There’s Daniel Murphy, but he won’t bring back anything in the way of an impact player or pitcher by himself. Eric Young is a role player, and Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud are major league prospects, but if they are traded that merely creates more holes for the Mets.

What about Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda? The Mets would like to get something for either, and don’t think for a second they haven’t been trying. Whenever Alderson is on the phone with another general manager, before he hangs up he’ll ask, “Any interest in Davis? How about Duda?’’

When Alderson talks about the need to increase the Mets’ depth on the minor league level, he means more than just with their pitching prospects. To reach contending status, a team must have a strong farm system to not only bring up players, but also trade them to fill holes.

That’s something the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves have done for years. Improving depth in the farm system is essential if the Mets are to reach the next level. Buying players might help on a temporary basis, but it isn’t something they will be able to live on winter after winter, regardless of their budget.

That’s how they got in trouble in the first place.

John Delcos has covered Major League Baseball for over 20 years, including the Yankees and Mets beats. He is a Hall of Fame voter, and currently owns and operates