With the Mets adding prospects with three trades so far this season, it seemed like a good time to talk minor leaguers with David Groveman. This piece initially started out discussing the trade with the Marlins, only to be eclipsed by the one with the Rangers. If we were smart, we’d hold off on this just to make sure that there wasn’t another big deal in the remaining time before the deadline hits. Instead, we decided to blow up that bridge, if necessary, with another piece. Here’s our email exchange:

David: The Mets traded Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers for Ronald Acuna’s younger brother, Luisangel Acuna. This is a star prospect who has tons of speed with a little power and the look of a future starting shortstop. I’m very happy with the return but I’m staggered by the Mets eating another $36 million loss to make it happen. Do you see an end to the bottomless wallet of Steve Cohen?

Brian: Cohen himself has stated that he can’t suffer losses like those he’s taking this year indefinitely. But actions speak louder than words. It’s my opinion that Scherzer plus $36 million should have gotten the Mets more than a mid-Top 100 prospect. It’s great that he’s a shortstop; he’s not going to play that position on the Mets. And I’m far from sold that our Acuna will be anything but a singles hitter. Now, his speed mitigates that somewhat, as plenty of those singles will wind up with him on second base. Guess I view his upside comp as former Marlin and Met Luis Castillo. He played parts of 15 years in the majors and had four seasons where he posted at least a 3.0 fWAR. That’s valuable and I’m not trying to pretend otherwise.

But what if he doesn’t reach his upside of Castillo and he’s Dee-Strange Gordon, instead? Strange-Gordon played parts of 11 seasons in the majors, two with at least a 3.0 fWAR and eight where he produced less than a 1.0 mark. To me, it’s an underwhelming return. I really, really hope that I’m wrong.

I see where MLB Pipeline has updated their Mets’ prospect list and has Kevin Parada, Acuna and Ronny Mauricio – in that order – as the top three. What do you think?

David: My recent Top 20 ranked Parada first with Mauricio second and I do feel like Acuna slots in well between the two despite the offensive potential of Mauricio being higher. The reason here has a lot to do with the mismanagement of the Mets when it comes to Mauricio, who shouldn’t have been playing shortstop for years at this point. If the Mets had any foresight, Mauricio would have likely already been a major league outfielder and have graduated off of our top prospects list. As things are, he still has no true defensive home and his ranking suffers for it.

Speaking of regrets for the deal above there were a few Texas Rangers prospects I would have sought out above Acuna. Owen White, Brock Porter and Jack Leiter would have all gone a long way to restocking a farm system with a dearth of starting pitching. Looking out to 2024, how do you see the Mets building a rotation without Scherzer and with little farm help waiting in the wings?

Brian: While acknowledging your defensive concerns, the guy succeeding at Triple-A at age 22 who has increased his AVG, OBP, SLG, BB% and cut his K% – all while seeing a 34-point decrease in his BABIP – from an already-solid age-21 season at Double-A, has to be first for me. My top three would be Mauricio, Parada and Blade Tidwell. The latter got off to a rough start but in his last 12 games, Tidwell is 8-0 with a 1.56 ERA and a 1.105 WHIP. Additionally, he’s limited opposing batters to a .558 OPS. Both Parada and Tidwell are at the same level, playing in a pitcher-friendly park, which is why Parada ranks higher.

As for the 2024 MLB rotation, my hope is that David Peterson rebounds here down the stretch to be considered the replacement for Carlos Carrasco as the fifth starter. A full season of both Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana will go a long way. And Kodai Senga seems to have erased any worry about making the transition from Japan to the U.S. Which means the club will have to dive into free agency for the final starter. The white whale is Shohei Ohtani but that has to be considered a long shot. There are a bunch of domestic hurlers who are interesting and another star from Japan will be available, too. Essentially, there’s work to be done but it’s not a huge worry. The bullpen will need a lot more work.

Finally, the Mets picked up two teenagers in complex-league ball for David Robertson. My opinion is that Billy Eppler maximized the return for Robertson here. Generally speaking, teams don’t trade elite prospects for old relievers on expiring contracts, certainly not ones in Double-A. While Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez are years away from contributing at the MLB level – and may not make it at all – there’s a lot to like about both of them. You can absolutely be a top-10 prospect while being in the lowest level of the U.S. affiliated leagues, as Francisco Alvarez was not too long ago. So, I’m bullish on this deal. What’s your take?

David: I agree that when you are trading a reliever, your return is almost guaranteed to be a player outside a team’s Top 10 and you either sacrifice floor or ceiling. Here, the Mets get two young players who slot safely into the team’s Top 20 and who have the ability to rise up into the Top 10 if they continue on their trajectories. I’ve slotted them in at 15th and 16th overall for the Met system. Fans aren’t going to love a deal like this because the names you get aren’t going to reach Queens for 3-4 seasons minimum but the Mets got two players who can make that trip given time. If I’m allowed to, I’d like to add one final conversation to our discourse.

The Mets traded Eduardo Escobar in a similar, cash infused, deal earlier this season, and brought back solid, albeit second tier, in Coleman Crow and Landon Marceaux. Crow had been hurt and may not pitch for the Mets in 2023 but appears to be among the more solid pitching prospects in the Mets organization. Marceaux, on the other hand, has pitched and extremely poorly. With the Mets expected to trade lesser names like Tommy Pham, Mark Canha, Carlos Carrasco, Brooks Raley, Omar Narvaez and Adam Ottavino it is doubtful that any other prospect acquired will crack the Top 10 do you think the Mets will lean towards the Robertson (high ceiling) trade or the Escobar (safer trajectory) one?

Brian: Crow was injured at the time of the trade, probably the only reason he was available in a deal. The take then was that the Mets were convinced the injury wasn’t going to be a long-term issue. My immediate reaction was that Crow had a chance to remain a starter, while Marceaux was almost certainly destined for the pen.

Robertson was one of the four-best pieces the Mets had to deal, along with Scherzer, Pete Alonso and Verlander. With the possible exception of Raley, none of the other players the Mets may deal here at the deadline would return what Robertson did. Honestly, if the Mets get a top-20 prospect for any of the remaining names on your list, they should be happy. With that as our backdrop, it makes no sense to me to go the safer route. Trade them for lottery tickets, even if all of them fizzle like Wuilmer Becerra did. A five-percent chance of being worthwhile is better than a 95% chance of being the next Sean Reid-Foley.

14 comments on “Talking prospects acquired in the three in-season deals by the Mets so far

  • ChrisF

    Breaking a few minutes ago, Canha has been traded to the Brewers for RHP Justin Jarvis. I saw that MLB had him ranked 30th in their system, but hes improved and apparently was moving up the ranking. Mets are eating his remaking salary for 2023.


    Some details in link.

    Clearly Pham has to be close to a deal, and I’d be more than a little surprised if someone doesn’t step up for Verlander. This team is not going all in for 2024.

    Now, what winning team is coming after Vogelbach???

    • Brian Joura

      From Andy McCullough:

      After going for younger prospects with a higher ceiling in the David Robertson trade, the Mets acquired a pitcher who is close to big-league ready. Jarvis pitched well in Double A this season before getting knocked around in a three-start cameo with Triple-A Nashville. He lacks an elite pitch beyond his fastball, in the eyes of some evaluators, but his fastball is pretty good.

      Sounds like our next reliever with options! But about what should have been expected as the return for Canha.

      In other prospect news, it was announced earlier that the Mets are promoting both Jett Williams and Blade Tidwell. Both should have happened already. Excited to see what Tidwell can do in Double-A.

    • BoomBoom

      He was their 12th ranked prospect according to Baseball America. Elite fastball, secondary pitches need to develop. Can definitely see him being converted to a reliever. He’s rule 5 eligible so the Mets will have to add him to the 40 this offseason if they don’t want to risk losing him.

      We’ll see how it plays out, but I can see Pham being the only other player moved. We could still go into next season with a very competitive team if McNeil and Alonso revert to the mean, Alvarez continues to develop and two of Baty / Vientos / Mauricio steps up.

      A rotation of Verlander, Senga, Quintana, (Snell/Urias/Nola/Yamamoto), Peterson can compete. Swap Ohtani for Peterson and obviously it’s a different scenario altogether.

    • MikeW

      Maybe a top notch men’s softball team will want Vogelbach. I read an article that the Mets were interested in Trevor Larnach from the Twins. Not too excited about that, another platoon player. They finally have to solve for DH this offseason. Or they can use it to keep Alvarez fresh.

      • BoomBoom

        the solution goes by a name: Ohtani

  • AgingBull

    Very happy that Brian and David did this article today amidst all the deadline activity. I think the closing line of “ A five-percent chance of being worthwhile is better than a 95% chance of being the next Sean Reid-Foley” is not only genius, but is precisely how I hope they are looking at it as they look for returns. OTOH, if Verlander truly does get moved, landing a MLB ready high-ceiling starter is a must and the Dodgers have a couple of those. Apparently the Astros and the Orioles are in the mix but they don’t have the young arms of LA, at least based on my reading.
    So, assuming that there are no teams interested in Vogelbach, what do the Mets do? Cut him and make room for a prospect like Mauricio? What about Carrasco? Wouldn’t you rather see someone like Megill or Lucchesi over Cookie at this point?

    • Brian Joura

      There’s already an open spot on the roster with the Canha deal and if they trade Pham, there’s another opening. They’ll have to have a spot for whenever Marte’s ready to return and perhaps Guillorme, too. But Mendick and Stewart seem to be more in jeopardy of losing spots there than Vogelbach.

      I’d like to see Lucchesi get starts over Carrasco. I think Mets fans vastly overrate Megill. Even so, he might be a better option than Carrasco now, too.

      • MikeW

        Since we are going nowhere, I’d rather see Lucchesi get some starts too rather than Carrasco.

      • AgingBull

        100% agree with you on Megill. I just don’t know who else would get starts. If after today the rotation consists of Senga, Quintana, Petersen, and Carrasco, then who gets added? My preference would be Lucchesi too, but I’d also be in favor of dumping Carrasco as he has zero impact on 2024. So if not Megill, who gets the innings? (I am not making a case for Megill, BTW, simply stating that I have no clue who they would bring up instead. Butto? Denyi Reyes? Valverde, Meija? None of them, including Megill, would seem to deserve it. This lack of alternatives may preserve Carrasco’s role through the end of the season, which is disappointing.

  • Name

    Some research on lottery ticket guys – the guys who play in the Dominican Summer League : They definitely don’t have a 5% odds of being worthwhile, it’s probably <1%

    Ali Sanchez , Nabil Crismat, Endy Rodriguez, Andres Giminez, Merandy Gonzalez, Luis Cessa, Rafael Montero, Hansel Robles, Domingo Tapia, Gabriel Ynoa, Wilfredo Tovar, Gonzalez Germen, Hansel Robles, Alberto Baldonado, Ruben Tejada, Ezequiel Carrera, Juan Lagares, Elvin Ramirez, Jose Quintana, Jordany Valdespin, Rhiner Cruz, Jenrry Mejia

    22 players – That's the complete list of players who have made it to the majors and previously played in the Mets Dominican Summer League or pre-2010 in the Venezuelan Summer Leagues from 2005-2019. On average about 90 players per year are in the Mets system playing for these rookie foreign leagues. So that's about 1350 players over the 15 year span, so 1.6% of those players have made it to the majors.

    Now how many of them have been better than Sean Reid- Foley?
    10 yes and 4 tbd/maybes. Nabil Crismat (tbd), Endy Rodriguez (tbd), Andres Giminez, Luis Cessa, Rafael Montero, Hansel Robles, Domingo Tapia (tbd), Hansel Robles, Ruben Tejada, Ezequiel Carrera, Juan Lagares, Jose Quintana, Jordany Valdespin (maybe?), Jenrry Mejia
    That's between 0.7% and 1%

    Ideally i would have separated this into 2 lists, one that are true lottery guys and others that signed for decent money but the only ones i could find were Giminez (1.2m) and Ali Sanchez (690k) and if you exclude those guys the true lottery % is probably even lower.

    Luckily, one of the guys the Mets got for Robertson signed for 850k so he's not in the <1% group even though he played in the DSL. But the other has quite the odds stacked against him.

    • Brian Joura

      Playing in the DSL or VSL is not significantly different than playing in the complex leagues – you have to have enough guys to field a team for the alleged stars/real prospects and the vast majority of them aren’t going to make the majors. A lottery ticket in that respect is not, say, Samuel Camacaro and his .416 OPS as a 19 year old this year in the DSL. It’s the guys who’ve signed for big numbers.

      I picked Wuilmer Becerra specifically in this respect because we know he got a $1.3 million signing bonus back in 2011. It’s hard enough to find bonus information in 2023 for international signees. If we have the number for a guy back in 2011, you know he had to be considered a top guy at the time. And Becerra never even made it to Double-A.

      The biggest bonuses the Mets have given out to international players the last two years have gone to Simon Juan, Willy Fanas and Dangelo Sarmiento in 2022 and Daiverson Gutierrez, Anthony Babtist and Cristofer Larez in 2023. No one knows if any of these guys will make it right now. They’re lottery tickets.

      It’s hard enough to know what U.S. born college players are going to do in the pro ranks. It’s even more difficult when you’re looking at guys five years younger. And then throw in making the adjustment to playing in a foreign country and it only gets worse.

      I found a list of the top 40 bonuses for 2015 International Signees, a list that included 42 names. There were big hits – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis, Juan Soto and Oneil Cruz. But there were many, many more duds. The guy who got the most was Lucius Fox, who got $6 million. He’s played 10 games in the majors and went 2-25. Next on the list was Jhailyn Ortiz, who got $4.01 million. He’s currently in Double-A at age 24, with a .530 OPS. Third on the list was Wander Javier, who got $4 million. He played seven games in Triple-A last year but has not played a game anywhere this season.

      If you take the top 100 guys by salary bonus from an international class, maybe more than 5% make it and become a worthwhile MLB player. The top 100 picks in the 2015 MLB Draft had 18 players amass at least a 4.0 bWAR, 15 of which came in the top 42 players. I seriously doubt the hit rate is better on the top 100 international guys.

      TL;DR – The 5% number I made up is for top money int’l guys, not anyone who put on the uniform

  • T.J.

    The bottom line is that the guys the Mets got for Robertson, who look good now, statistically have a really really low probability of even making it to the bigs, no less helping. So, the Mets traded the best closer on the market at the deadline for two lottery tickets, that really can’t be disputed. I bought 3 Mega tickets last week instead of 1. I’m still going to work every day.

    In some ways, perhaps statistically, they got more for Cahna. That’s nuts.

  • Metsense

    The Scherzer trade I would have preferred one of the Texas pitchers instead Acuna. For $36m they also should have gotten another top #20 or below prospect. Scherzer had one year on his contract. The trade shows how much the Mets wanted to get rid of Scherzer.
    The Robertson trade, Eppler got market value for a 2 month rental. He can sign Robertson next year if he wants.
    The Escobar trade and money, Eppler also got market value for a rental. Escobar is playing bad the the Angels (78 OPS+) and he wasn’t in the Mets plan this season.
    In a lost season, the Mets are trying to bulk up their minor leagues for future trades for established players. They are also opening up positions so they can reevaluate Baty, Vientos, Hartwig and Mauricio in the majors without them having pressure.

  • NYM6986

    Thanks for the deep dive into the prospects the Mets picked up. Getting value from
    expiring contracts is key with the prospects
    as playing in the postseason fade each day. But any talk of moving Alonso will make me question my rooting for this team unless it returns 3 MLB players who can also hit the long ball. You can’t simply replace what he can do at the plate and how well he has done at first base, especially scooping up
    all those terrible throws. Today should be interesting.

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