Marlon Byrd is the perfect candidate to be traded this month, right? A veteran on a one-year contract, distinguishing himself with dynamic play for the non-contending Mets and not a part of their future -- that’s a guy who moves to a better team before the July 31 trade deadline.
Except that he probably isn’t. According to a person with direct knowledge of the Mets’ thinking, the club is far more likely to duplicate its approach with Scott Hairston last year, holding onto Byrd in an effort to be respectable in the second half.
This info provides a good jumping-off point to unpack what the Mets mean by “standing pat” at the deadline, which they are likely to do. For several years, it has been the team’s style to avoid shaving decent pieces from the roster mid-season, and this summer is no different, team insiders say.
The Mets, as we have reported, have always been more inclined to add players this season, but have found that top targets like Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Gonzalez are unavailable at the moment. The team was never serious about selling, so in the absence of attractive buying possibilities, they have told other teams that they will, as the saying goes, stand pat.
The reluctance to hang a For Sale sign around Byrd, Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell and others has been met with some skepticism around the league. Said one rival scout: “I’m hearing they want to stand pat, but I can’t read whether that’s posturing to drive up prices.”
Time will tell on that, but the Hairston model is an instructive one, and more appropriate for the Mets this season than last. Unlike in 2012, the 2013 Mets failed to create much hope or energy in the first few months (“we’re going to lose 100 games this year,” a player groaned to me -- in May).
But in recent weeks, that has changed. Sandy Alderson’s re-arranging of the roster deck chairs a few weeks ago seemed to energize the team; Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada gave way to Eric Young Jr. and Omar Quintanilla, making the Mets a more athletic team, and far sleeker defensively. Pitching coach Dan Warthen has helped to squeeze the most from Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee, and Zack Wheeler has shown improvement of late.
Because of these factors, the Mets have a chance to reverse the trend of recent seasons, finishing with more energy than they began -- which could, incidentally, save the job of an excellent manager in Terry Collins. Moving Byrd and others (especially Parnell, who the Daily News reported last week is highly likely to stay), would crush any hope of that.
It is debatable whether the Mets could even receive a decent piece in exchange for Byrd. Here, Hairston is once again a useful example. A few days ago, Chicago traded Hairston to Washington for Single-A pitcher Ivan Pineyro. A Cubs insider told us that Pineyro is a prospect, but “a few years away.”
Is it worth it for the Mets to move Byrd for an arm that might or might not be useful in 2016? The team would rather try to win a few more games this summer.