There has been talk lately that if the Mets drop out of contention by mid-season, they should begin dismantling the team and go into full rebuilding mode. There are many, many problems with this.
First of all, the Mets are built to win now. They have assembled a team of 30-something players who either have untradeable contracts or who would not bring back much in the way to prospects that could kick-start a rebuilding process. So there’s that.
The only players who could return anyone of value are Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard (Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario could also net something, but they are young potential pieces to build around, not trade. Plus, their stock is low right now), and many are advocating for them to be dealt if things fall apart. I can kind of see trading deGrom (although I wouldn’t do it); after all, if the Mets plan a three-year process, they would be ready to compete again in 2022. deGrom would turn 34 during that season and his career would likely be winding down by that point. They might be able to get three top prospects for a player who might not be of much value to them when they are ready.
But trading Syndergaard would be dumb. He would turn 30 during the 2022 season and might be in his prime. He would be exactly the type of ace a contending team would want.
The problem with trading either of them is that you have to be damn sure those prospects are going to pan out. How many prospects have we seen never fulfill their promise? That would be unacceptable if the Mets made the bold move to trade either of their two star pitchers. They would have to get AAA players who have proven they can play and are nearly ready.
Which brings us to the biggest problem — who oversees such a rebuilding effort? Raise your hand if you trust Sandy Alderson to evaluate the talent to make the trades. I’ll bet your hand is by your side. Alderson has shown time and time again he is a poor talent evaluator, especially when it comes to young players. How have his drafts been? Not very fruitful.
No, any rebuild would have to begin with Alderson being fired. It would also have to begin with the Wilpons willing to absorb major losses (both on the field and in their pockets) for a few years. I don’t see either of those things happening. They’d probably rather the team be mediocre and profitable than terrible and money-losing.
Alderson has built a team that cannot be easily dismantled and may not be able to win. So it looks like we might be stuck in the middle for a while longer.