The New York Mets enter Wednesday in an unenviable position. Though the Mets possess a game lead over the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East, they have a majors-leading 16 players on the injured list. That group includes four starting pitchers; three-fourths of the starting infield; and five outfielders -- and doesn't include Johneshwy Fargas, who is expected to be placed on the shelf soon, pending MRI results.
It should come as no surprise then that Mets general manager Zack Scott conceded this week that he's seeking reinforcements. "I'm pretty much on the phone all day, every day," Scott told The Athletic. "The challenge is, obviously, when you're talking to other clubs, it's where they are at in terms of motivation and at this time of year. But yeah, we got to cover everything and explore everything we can to get the best team on the field at all times."
Scott is correct in his assertion that it's a tough time to make a trade. Most teams still fancy themselves contenders, making them reluctant to move their better players. To further complicate matters, players who signed big-league contacts over the winter cannot be dealt until mid-June. (Technically, the player can waive their no-trade rights, but the Collective Bargaining Agreement limits the return the selling team can obtain, making these deals rare.)
That doesn't mean the Mets are out of luck. They acquired outfielder Billy McKinney from the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night, not long after McKinney had been designated for assignment. But the timing means the Mets will have to be creative about who they target. With that in mind, we've identified the following five players who 1) fit onto their roster; 2) appear to be realistic trade candidates; and 3) could give the Mets more production than their current options. (Note the players are presented in alphabetical order.)
We covered why the surging Rays might become active traders last Friday, just hours before they shipped shortstop Willy Adames to the Brewers. It's possible that Tampa Bay isn't done yet, either, as a deal involving either Mike Brosseau or Kevin Padlo would make sense as a method for clearing a roster spot and playing time. For our purposes, we're highlighting Brosseau. He's off to a rough start (a 65 OPS+ in his first 108 plate appearances), but his exit velocity is in line with last season and despite a bloated strikeout rate he's actually making contact more frequently this season (about eight fewer whiffs per 100 swings). Brosseau's defensive versatility and cost certainty would make him an appealing long-term fit for the Mets.
The book on Delino DeShields Jr. is simple: he can't hit, but he can run and play a quality outfield. The Rangers owe it to themselves to see where Adolis García's hot start leads, and to see if David Dahl can live up to his past promise. As such, the Rangers don't have as much use for DeShields as they appeared to when they signed him to a minor-league pact in February. It's worth noting that the Yankees have also been tied to DeShields in recent weeks, so the Mets might have to engage in the league's lowest stakes bidding war to get their man.
Brian Goodwin has already changed teams once this month, as he opted out of his contract with the Pirates to join the White Sox, who at the time needed additional depth following Luis Robert's diagnosis. He's since appeared in 13 games with Chicago's Triple-A affiliate, hitting .184/.231/.429 with 18 more strikeouts than walks. As uninspiring as those numbers are, it's worth remembering the Mets acquired Cameron Maybin after he'd compiled a .103/.186/.205 slash line in 10 games with the Cubs' Triple-A team. The Mets may have to take what they can get, even if that means betting on another journeyman to shake out of their funk.
Sam Hilliard probably has the most upside of anyone included in this article. He might also have the most downside. He's a 27-year-old with above-average power and speed who has minimal big-league success to his name. To wit, he's struck out in 35 percent of his career 240 trips to the plate -- and that's with Coors Field serving as his home stadium. Hilliard has enough perceived potential that the Rockies may want to hold onto him, just in case things click, but no one could blame them if they're losing faith in him ever making good on his promise.
The Giants acquired LaMonte Wade Jr. in February in exchange for Shaun Anderson, a deal that suggested they liked him more than the standard end-of-roster type. San Francisco has since added Mike Tauchman to the mix, leaving the walk-happy Wade back in Triple-A, where he's posted an .893 OPS in 12 games. Given that he's 27 years old and appears to again be on the wrong side of a numbers game, it stands to reason that the Giants would be willing to listen.