As the New York Mets officially begin trying to fill all of their offseason needs, reports indicate that general manager Sandy Alderson and the front office will be aggressive in exploring the trade market to fill their needs before taking a look at this year’s crop of free agents. But is it wise for Alderson to put free agents completely on the back burner while trying to pull off trades?
On the one hand, Alderson has had great success pulling off trades in the past, starting with trading Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler a of couple years ago. More recently he traded away R.A. Dickey last offseason and then dealt Marlon Byrd and John Buck in late August, all of which were great trades for the long-term future of the Mets.
However, Alderson’s brilliance on the trade market has been due in large part to his patience and his willingness to wait until the right offer is in front of him, and if he waits too long this offseason and nothing materializes he could be in a position where notable free agents are no longer available and he’s stuck making low-level signings or folding on trade offers that end up doing more harm than good. If Alderson is going to wait on free agency, then he may not be able to afford to be as patient on the trade market, which could end up hurting the Mets.
It’s also important to remember that the Mets have a cluttered roster, giving them a lot of major league position players that need to be moved elsewhere this winter. They also have a plentiful amount of pitching prospects that could be packaged along with those position players in order to return a useful player that fits one of their needs. In that sense the Mets absolutely need to be aggressive in exploring any and all trade possibilities, which is also something that could interfere with Alderson’s usual patience.
It would be foolish for the Mets to ignore the free agent market, especially early in the offseason. There are several free agents, especially in the outfield and at shortstop, that the Mets should be giving serious consideration to signing, and it would be a shame if those players were to sign elsewhere before the Mets could become serious contenders to sign them. This year’s free agent class isn’t anything too special, but there are enough good players available so that the Mets can’t allow free agency to pass them by without doing anything.
Alderson and the Mets’ front office are smart to recognize that trades are the best way for the Mets to reshape their roster this offseason. However, they need to find a way to proceed on both fronts so that they don’t completely ignore the free agents that are available. Making trades would be great, especially with Alderson’s recent string of success in pulling them off, but if they don’t happen the Mets can’t afford to let free agency pass them by.