The Mets have looked like an excellent trade partner with the Cubs on Willson Contreras and/or David Robertson, but SNY’s Andy Martino tweeted Friday morning that no names have been exchanged yet. He added that the Cubs “have indicated high price” and that the Mets are reluctant to deal prospects after seemingly being burned in the Pete Crow-Armstrong trade last year.
As of bedtime last night, still no names exchanged between Mets, Cubs on potential Contreras/Robertson trades. In preliminary dialogue so far, Cubs have indicated high price. Can’t blame them after getting Pete Crow-Armstrong last year. Mets more reluctant now to part w prospects
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) July 29, 2022
Setting aside the pathetic self-own by the Mets organization there for just a bit, I find it very strange that an organization with the deepest financial resources in MLB would be worried about trading prospects. Owner Steve Cohen has shown both the desire and willingness to spend heavily on free agents and extensions, so what does it matter if they move a few prospects to improve their chances of winning this season?
This feels like more of a bargaining tactic or a way for the Mets to try to find out who the Cubs want so they can put their heads together and figure out what they’ve missed developmentally. Crow-Armstrong was drafted out of high school and got just 24 at-bats in Low-A before a shoulder injury curtailed his 2021 season, which likely caused the Mets to overlook or discount his potential.
Even before he had gotten clearance to resume swinging, the Cubs had laid out a plan to eliminate some mechanical inefficiencies in order to help him “do damage.” The result has been a surge in power to go along with his elite glove in center, making him a fast riser through both the system and the prospect rankings. So more than simply worrying about losing prospects in general, the Mets are probably concerned with why the Cubs might want certain players.
One such prospect could be Mark Vientos, a corner man ranked No. 5 in the Mets system by MLB.com who’s been striking out at north of a 30% clip in Triple-A. He figures to be in play here, particularly since the Mets have said their top two prospects — catcher Francisco Álvarez and third baseman Brett Baty — are off-limits. Shortstop Ronny Mauricio is another name people mention a lot in these circles, and he likewise has some offensive holes.
The Mets’ main issue here might simply be a matter of insecurity stemming from their chronic organizational incompetence. They keep finding ways to screw up, so any reluctance to part with prospects is probably born of fear that those prospects will end up developing into stars elsewhere. If that’s really the case, they need to do two things: 1) Upgrade their development infrastructure; 2) Make damn sure to spend enough that losing those prospects doesn’t matter.
The Cubs have done one of those two things over the last few years, now they need to think about doing the other.