GM Scott on Deadline: 'We have to be smart'

July 5th, 2021

NEW YORK -- Over the past two weeks, the Mets have had three significant offensive pieces resurface in Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. The lineup should become completely whole around the All-Star break, with J.D. Davis scheduled to return from the injured list.

Contrast that to the Mets’ pitching staff, which will be without Carlos Carrasco until at least late July, Noah Syndergaard until probably September and Joey Lucchesi for the rest of the season.

Given such a landscape, general manager Zack Scott acknowledged on Monday that pitching -- not hitting -- figures to be the Mets’ most likely pursuit in advance of the July 30 Trade Deadline.

“I don’t feel like anything’s imminent, but [we’re] trying to work toward something pretty much every day,” Scott said.

Just because the Mets are focused on pitching does not necessarily mean they will land Kyle Gibson, Germán Márquez or any of the other top starters who reportedly will be available at the Deadline. But it does mean they are likely to make a move of some kind prior to July 30.

Scott defined the situation as the reverse of earlier this year, when the Mets’ position-player mix was so taxed that they dealt for Billy McKinney and Cameron Maybin. Now the lineup and bench are healthy, easing concern off an offense that still ranks 29th in the Majors in runs per game. Because the pitching staff is not in the same kind of shape despite its superior performance, the Mets figure to concentrate on filling gaps there.

It’s a process that could take some time, for multiple reasons. One, the market has yet to develop to any great extent, due to sticker shock among teams searching for starting pitching. That’s likely to change in the weeks leading up to the Deadline, particularly for rentals -- such players as Danny Duffy or Tyler Anderson, who can become free agents after the season.

Two, the Mets will have a clearer picture by the end of the month about their own injured starters. To that end, Carrasco participated in pitchers' fielding practice for the first time on Monday, while Syndergaard threw off flat ground. The return of Carrasco, who has missed the entire first half due to a torn right hamstring, won’t preclude the Mets from acquiring pitching help, but it could convince them to shop smaller -- hoarding prospect assets for long-term growth instead of spending them on short-term fixes.

“One thing I say a lot to a lot of people around me in the game is we’ve got to remember that baseball is not the NBA,” Scott said. “It’s not one person [who] has the opportunity to make as big of an impact. That’s not to go down a slippery slope and say, ‘Why trade for any rental, then, if it’s not going to make an impact?’ You don’t want to go down that far. But the reality is the game is designed to limit the impact of a single player, whether that’s a starting pitcher or a hitter. So we have to be smart.”

While the Mets wait for prices to drop, they will continue to monitor their own needs and potential fixes. Scott doesn’t plan on looping team president Sandy Alderson into the conversations in any meaningful way until those talks become more “real,” which hasn’t been the case quite yet.

But as so often happens in these situations, that can change with a single phone call.

“I’ve never been part of a team where we felt like a perfect team,” Scott said. “So you’re always focused on, ‘What can we make better?’ That’s the job.”