With the Mets sporting the second-to-worst record (11-27) in the Majors since the outset of May, the future of ace Jacob deGrom has become a popular topic of conversation.
The numbers don't lie when it comes to deGrom's season. The right-hander has performed at an elite level since making his MLB debut in 2014, posting a lifetime 2.81 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP, a 2.95 FIP and a 4.2 K/BB ratio. This year, he owns personal-best marks in ERA (MLB-best 1.55), FIP (2.00) and K/9 rate (11.6).
And with deGrom's free agency not arriving until the end of the 2020 season, a trade for the soon-to-be 30-year-old would likely fetch a prospect haul that could revitalize a Mets organization whose farm system is ranked in the lower third among MLB teams, according to MLB Pipeline.
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The trade package the White Sox received from the Red Sox for Chris Sale -- Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech (White Sox No. 2 prospect), Victor Diaz and Luis Alexander Basabe (No. 13) -- in December 2016 could be a model for the quantity and quality of talented youngsters the Mets should expect to get from a deGrom deal. At the time, Sale had three years of team control remaining, and deGrom has two more years after this, so a trade for him would get you two-plus years of an ace.
To be clear: The Mets are under no obligation to trade deGrom, and there is a good argument that they should hold onto him and continue to try to compete with their current core. That said, if things don't turn around, the calls for trading deGrom will only increase between now and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
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With that in mind, the six contenders below are best equipped to meet those demands if the Mets are inclined to move deGrom this summer.
The Braves are a year ahead of schedule and have one of the most productive offenses in the Majors, but they lack a true ace. While Sean Newcomb and Mike Foltynewicz both have stellar numbers this season, they don't have experience pitching in a pennant race. Atlanta clearly has the young talent to entice the Mets, who likely won't be above trading deGrom within the division if they decide to rebuild and are receiving three or four of Atlanta's top prospects in return. The Braves will likely make Ronald Acuna Jr. untouchable, but the Mets may have a hard time saying no to a deal that includes righty Mike Soroka (Braves No. 3 prospect), third baseman Austin Riley(No. 8) and lefties Luiz Gohara (No. 4) and Max Fried No. 7).
The Dodgers certainly haven't been opposed to supplementing their homegrown core with trades in the Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi era, but the current front office hasn't made a deal involving multiple top-level prospects yet. deGrom should be an exception, especially in light of the questions surrounding Clayton Kershaw's short- and long-term health and his opt-out clause at the end of this season. Right-hander Walker Buehler would likely have to headline any deal along with outfielder Alex Verdugo (Dodgers No. 1 prospect), and the Dodgers may need to part with one or both of righty Yadier Alvarez (No. 7) and outfielder Jeren Kendall (No. 6) to complete a trade.
Like the Braves, the Phillies also are ahead of schedule in their rebuilding process, and adding deGrom to a rotation that already includes free-agent acquisition Jacob Arrieta and emerging ace Aaron Nola could be the move that gets the club back to the postseason for the first time since 2011. Sixto Sanchez (Phillies' No. 1 prospect and No. 23 in MLB) would likely have to be part of the trade to get the Mets to send deGrom to a National League East rival, as would one of Philadelphia's top two position-player prospects, outfielders Adam Haseley (No. 3) and Mickey Moniak (No. 4). The Phillies could also offer young players with MLB experience, such as Cesar Hernandez and Jorge Alfaro, to sweeten the deal.
The Brewers are currently leading their division and have the best record in the NL, but they still need a top-of-the-rotation starter to break into the ranks of baseball's elite teams, especially given Jimmy Nelson's uncertain return date from shoulder surgery. A prospect package of second baseman Keston Hiura (Brewers' No. 1 prospect) and righty Corbin Burnes (No. 2) would have to headline any trade for deGrom, with two out of outfielder Corey Ray, righty Freddy Peralta (No. 9) and first baseman Jake Gatewood (No. 17) rounding out the deal.
The Yankees have one of the strongest farm systems in the game, and it's no secret they would love to round out their rotation with another high-end, controllable starter to pair with Luis Severino. It will likely take an overpay to convince the Mets to trade deGrom across town, however, as a move that could potentially set up the Yankees for World Series title No. 28 will be a tough sell for the Mets' fan base. Any deal that did not include second baseman Gleyber Torres would instead need third baseman Miguel Andujar, along with lefty Justus Sheffield (Yankees' No. 2 prospect), righty Chance Adams (No. 4) and possibly even outfielder Clint Frazier. That price may be too steep, even for the prospect-rich Yankees. But the Yankees do have Brandon Drury -- who was supposed to be their everyday third baseman -- stuck at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre due to Andujar's perfomance, so they wouldn't have a complete void at the hot corner if they moved Andujar.
Jon Gray has shown flashes of excellence during his career, but he's been unable to establish himself as an ace-level hurler to this point. And while Kyle Freeland has taken a step forward, German Marquez and Tyler Anderson have not, leaving the Rockies in need of a dependable starter, especially one with the stuff to succeed in Colorado. The club has typically had difficulty signing free-agent starting pitchers because of the Coors Field effect, so trading for deGrom now makes sense. Shortstop Brendan Rodgers (Rockies' No. 1 prospect and No. 10 in all of MLB) and right-hander Jeff Hoffman would headline a deal with the Mets, while adding righty Riley Pint (No. 4) and possibly catcher Tom Murphy (No. 10) should get New York's attention.