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Inbox: Wheeler a trade chip or part of future?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers questions from Mets fans
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

With less than 24 hours until Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, this week's crop of Mets questions understandably revolves around who might go and who might stay. Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera are already elsewhere. The next name everyone wants to know about? Zack Wheeler.

With Wheeler's performance in Sunday's game, did Zack cement his future as the No. 3 starter in the Mets' rotation in 2019 or bolster his trade worth so the Mets can get what they are looking for and trade him before the Deadline?
-- @TomP517 via Twitter

With less than 24 hours until Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, this week's crop of Mets questions understandably revolves around who might go and who might stay. Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera are already elsewhere. The next name everyone wants to know about? Zack Wheeler.

With Wheeler's performance in Sunday's game, did Zack cement his future as the No. 3 starter in the Mets' rotation in 2019 or bolster his trade worth so the Mets can get what they are looking for and trade him before the Deadline?
-- @TomP517 via Twitter

That is the key question surrounding the Mets this week, and I've heard it described as a "double-edged sword" -- Wheeler's run of excellence has indeed boosted his trade value, making him more desirable to contenders. At the same time, it makes the Mets increasingly confident that Wheeler can be a key piece of their 2019 team.

Which factor will win out? At the Deadline, as always, it comes down to what teams are actually willing to offer. While Wheeler is one of the best starting pitchers purportedly available, he's not the only one. Chris Archer looms large, and whether the Rays trade him could affect how much teams are willing to pay for Wheeler.

The Mets have been clear that they will only deal Jacob deGrom if they're bowled over by a ludicrous offer -- in other words, it's almost certainly not going to happen. My sense is that the Mets will need to be wowed to trade Wheeler, as well. The only difference is that the price isn't quite as high, making it more likely someone actually meets it.

:: Submit a question to the Mets Inbox ::

Do you expect any additional deals to be done before the Deadline?
-- @jake_shoe_ via Twitter

I would not be surprised to see the Mets stand pat the rest of the way, leaving Familia and Cabrera as their lone Deadline trades. Of the Mets' other chips, Devin Mesoraco is probably most likely to go, but he may not command enough in return for the team to deal him. You'll continue to hear Jose Bautista's name right up until the Deadline, as well, but because he's making the league minimum, the Mets have little incentive to get something done.

One wild card is Wilmer Flores, who could certainly net an interesting prospect in return. A Flores trade makes sense given that he's going to be relatively expensive for a bench player in his final year of arbitration next season. But Flores is, like Wheeler, an integral part of what the Mets are trying to do next season. Parting with him would be difficult to stomach for a club that still doesn't appear ready to rebuild.

If the Mets don't trade deGrom or Noah Syndergaard before the Deadline, do you think they will listen to offers during the offseason?
-- @Vgiacalone11 via Twitter

That's a popular theory, that the Mets will use the winter to gauge deals for their twin aces. But I don't entirely buy it. Trading either deGrom or Syndergaard would mean committing to a full-scale rebuild. From a baseball-operations perspective, there's merit to that strategy. (I'd personally argue in favor of it.) But the Mets have really shown no indication that they're willing to go down that road just yet. Until that changes, I expect both deGrom and Syndergaard to report to Spring Training with their Mets teammates in February.

Yes, the Mets will listen to offers both now and in December. But listening and accepting are two very different things.

What's the future of the catching situation? Do the Mets re-sign Mesoraco? Is Travis d'Arnaud still a possibility or have they moved on from him? How about Kevin Plawecki? Someone else?
-- @MillManner via Twitter

First off, there are no guarantees that d'Arnaud will even be ready to go by the end of Spring Training as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. I suspect the Mets will non-tender him and try to re-sign him at a cheaper price as he continues his rehab.

Plawecki will be a part of the Mets' plans again, making -- and stop me if you've heard this before -- the next two months critical to his future. If Plawecki performs well, he could do enough to convince the Mets he deserves at least a share of the team's starting-catching duties going forward.

Most likely, the Mets will pair Plawecki with a veteran free agent -- maybe Mesoraco, maybe someone else. Tomas Nido hasn't done quite enough yet to prove he deserves a full-time spot in the bigs, though he'll likely see time on the big league club next year as well.

Bullpen will be an issue again next year. Is the 2019 Opening Day closer already on the roster or will the Mets try to sign an established guy? In my opinion, big money for closers is a big waste.
-- @MMSQBcoach via Twitter

Under Sandy Alderson's leadership, the Mets shared your aversion to big-money deals for closers, so it will be interesting to see how they proceed under new stewardship. The final two months of this season will provide Robert Gsellman and Anthony Swarzak chances in the ninth inning, as well as potentially Drew Smith, Jacob Rhame and others. All of those pitchers are likely to be a part of the 2019 bullpen mix. Perhaps one will emerge as the closer.

If not, I find it difficult to believe the Mets will pony up tens of millions of dollars to re-sign Familia or another proven ninth-inning type. More than anything, they need Smith, Rhame, Gerson Bautista and other young, hard-throwing pitchers already in their organization to begin blossoming.

Do you think the three interim GMs have any decision-making authority to make a trade, or do they have to run it by Jeff Wilpon first?
-- @russelltob via Twitter

Wilpon made something of a stir last month when he said publicly that he has the final sign-off on all baseball-operations decisions. That does not mean that front-office executives John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya have no say in matters; to the contrary, those three are the ones engaged with other teams, generating ideas and, ultimately, coming up with the deals that work. Wilpon's role is to sign off at the end.

Why do the Mets not reinvest insurance money into the team?
-- @b81784850 via Twitter

This question is in reference to the insurance policies the Mets have on the contracts of David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and (possibly) others. The way Wilpon described it in January, the team considers Wright's entire salary part of its player payroll because if the injured third baseman comes back to play even a single game, the Mets' insurance clock stops and they have to start paying. Obviously, that hasn't happened, so the Mets have recouped 75 percent of Wright's salary for most of the past three seasons. 

The Mets have declined to discuss the details of Cespedes' insurance policy, including whether they plan to reinvest the payoff now that he's out for the rest of this season.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

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