For a team built extensively through the trade and free-agent markets, the Mets, like all clubs, remain dependent on the Draft. Jacob deGrom came from the Draft. Michael Conforto came from the Draft. Brandon Nimmo came from the Draft. The Mets' chances to compete this year, and in future years, hinge largely upon players they've taken in the Draft.
It is with that in mind that the Mets will tackle this year's event, keen to choose wisely with their highest selection -- sixth overall -- since 2004.
The 2018 Draft will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with today's Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
Go to MLB.com/draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Mets:
In about 50 words
The event provides a critical opportunity for Draft boss Tommy Tanous, who will have the Mets' highest selection in 14 years. They did well with their other Top 10 picks this decade, taking Matt Harvey seventh overall in 2010 and Conforto with the 10th pick in 2014.
Over the past four years, the Mets have graduated high-ranking prospects such as Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Conforto, Nimmo and Amed Rosario to the big leagues, traded away others such as Michael Fulmer, and seen still others fizzle out in the Minors. The result is what currently rates as one of baseball's weaker farm systems. The Mets have tried to counteract that by dipping frequently into the college ranks in recent years, drafting older players who can advance through their system quickly. The 2018 Draft could see them follow a similar strategy.
MLB.com's Jim Callis has the Mets linked to four players in the first round: Florida third baseman Jonathan India, South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty, Waukesha West (Wis.) High School outfielder Jarred Kelenic and Mountain Ridge (Ari.) High School pitcher Matthew Liberatore. At fourth overall, Liberatore is the highest-ranked of those players on MLB Pipeline's Draft board.
To ensure competitive balance, MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that each team has a bonus pool to spend based upon the number and position of its Draft picks. The more selections a team has and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. Any club that overspends its budget is subject to taxes and, in extreme cases, a loss of picks in future Drafts.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
This year, the Mets have a pool of $9,580,900 to spend in the first 10 rounds, more than $3 million more than their allotment last year. That includes $5,525,200 to spend on their first selection.
The Mets' most obvious organizational hole is in the outfield. Their top-ranked outfielder, No. 7 prospect Desmond Lindsay, is coming off major elbow surgery. No. 15 prospect Adrian Hernandez, an international signing last summer, is just 17 years old. While the Mets are set in their outfield for the foreseeable future with Nimmo, Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce all under contract for years to come, they could use more impact outfield prospects at the lower rungs of their organization. Swaggerty or Kelenic would fit that bill.
After a run of position players earlier this decade, the Mets have shifted their focus in recent years to pitching. Their three Day 1 picks the past two seasons were all starting pitchers: David Peterson last year and Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay in 2016.
Recent Draft history
There may not be a prospect anywhere in the country with more helium than first baseman Peter Alonso, the Mets' second-round selection in 2016. After missing a chunk of last season due to injury, Alonso has returned with authority, spending part of this season atop the Double-A Eastern League leaderboard in home runs and OPS. Alonso could make an impact in New York as soon as this season.
A 13th-round pick in 2015, left-hander P.J. Conlon made his big league debut earlier this year in Cincinnati. Seventh-rounder Corey Oswalt also debuted earlier this season for the Mets.
In the show
Two Mets Draft picks in particular have shined in 2018. deGrom, the Mets' ninth-round selection in 2010, is an early National League Cy Young Award candidate. And Nimmo, the Mets' first-rounder in 2011, has established himself as the team's regular leadoff hitter, enjoying an on-base percentage well above .400 for most of April and May.
The Mets' recent top picks
2017: David Peterson, LHP (Class A Columbia)
2016: Justin Dunn, RHP (Class A St. Lucie)
2015: Lindsay, OF (Class A St. Lucie)
2014: Conforto, OF (Mets)
2013: Dominic Smith, 1B (Triple-A Las Vegas)