After what seemingly felt like six long and tumultuous years of hitching their hopes on low-level pitching prospects ultimately fulfilling their promise, Mets fans finally saw their beloved Amazin’s resurrected from the depths of mediocrity on their way to an improbable run to the World Series in 2015.
The Dark Knight Matt Harvey successfully returned from Tommy John Surgery, Jacob deGrom entrenched himself as one of the premiere hurlers in the game, Noah Syndergaard dropped the hammer and Steven Matz showed glimpses of excellence. First-round draft selection Michael Conforto spent less than one full season in the minors before he paid immediate dividends in the postseason.
The Mets formula for success during the regime of Sandy Alderson has always been contingent on the development of their farm system in order to preserve financial flexibility. Those aforementioned young players have now become the pillars of the franchise and it has simultaneously weakened their immediate depth in the minor leagues. While the Mets spend the dog days of summer defending their pennant, Alderson cannot deviate away from the constant replenishment of high-end talent.
In seasons past we have witnessed the team sell-off players of immense popularity like R.A. Dickey, Carlos Beltran, and Marlon Byrd in order to deepen their stash of young prospects. As time passes, situations change and opportunities arise that are not always planned for. While the Mets were expected to be an improved club in 2015 nobody in their wildest of dreams could have envisioned the team being in a position to deal away precious assets to acquire veteran talent to beef-up for a shot at the Fall Classic.
As the Nationals internally imploded and the teams young pitching met expectations to keep them afloat, Alderson found himself in unfamiliar territory as he was able to play the role of buyer rather than the accustomed seller. In a span of one week, the Mets dealt away 5 solid prospects, including top-pitching prospect Michael Fulmer, in order to obtain veterans Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard. While they went on a story book run and won their first pennant in fifteen years, only Cespedes still remains with the club and his status beyond 2016 is not certain.
The cost of doing business in modern-day baseball is certainly hefty and if the Mets are going to maintain their place atop the National League they are going to have to be very active in the trade market and strong in developing their own players. It seems like it is a lifetime away but before long we will open our eyes and those four young starting pitchers are all going to be due for huge pay days. It is inevitable that some or all of those pitchers may one day leave for greener dollars so it is important that the Mets maintain payroll flexibility to secure their services for the long-term when that day does come. The best recipe to do that is draft well and sign affordable international talent.
Top-shelf prospects like Dominic Smith, Gavin Cecchini, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera and Ahmed Rosario are all projected to begin the 2016 campaign in the minor leagues upper-levels and are not far off from making their major league debuts. As the next wave of prospects arrive it is vital for Alderson to stay the course and not neglect the feeding system that took him to the dance. For once, Mets fans are excited about the team that they will field on opening day rather than the prospects that they hope are there in September.