The Mets’ 2018 season has been up and down, with a graph of the wins and losses showing a sharp rise to start followed by the prolonged downturn we have been in. Inevitably, some of the fans are clamoring to see the Mets “tank,” a scenario in which the front office trades off some of the better players, knowing that will result in a worse record hence higher draft picks down the road. This also reduces salary and may provide more money for signing key free agents in the future as the team gets ready to contend.
This strategy has worked, and worked well for several teams in recent years, including the Cubs and the Astros. Both endured 100 plus loss seasons, and were rewarded with high draft picks. The Astros landed Carlos Correa as the first overall pick in 2012. The Cubs grabbed Kris Bryant as the second overall pick in 2013, and both, of course, are elite caliber players. There many other excellent players on both rosters due to the high picks after the bad years.
The results have been favorable for both teams. The Cubs broke their historic World Series drought with their championship 2016 season, and the Astros won the World Series last year. Numerous other clubs have gone the tanking route, with both the Phillies and Braves starting to show some results this year. It appears the Marlins may be in the process of tanking, during the offseason they traded their entire starting outfield, the team’s strong suit.
The Mets do have some highly desirable pieces to trade off, should they choose to do that. Pitchers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard would be at the top of the list. Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be highly coveted, if no-trade clauses could be overcome.
But the Mets are probably not going to take that drastic tanking route this season. They do still have a winning record, at least as of this writing. If they were good enough to go 11-1 to start the year, they might find their groove again. But the main reason they probably won’t tank is the front office situation. Sandy Alderson is the man who makes the personnel decisions, (with input from others, especially the Wilpons), and he has been the teams’ GM since 2010. He’s no longer pushing 70, he’s pulling it. Even though he did get his contract extended before the season, the end of his tenure as GM can’t be all that far away.
Much of the time the tanking process with other teams has been kicked off by new GMs. Think Theo Epstein with the Cubs and Derek Jeter with the Marlins. Does Alderson really want to tear down this team and see it sink, and leave him with a legacy of losing as his career winds down? It is most likely any super star players would be playing for a new GM by the time they reach the majors with the Mets, considering Aldersons’ age.