The Mets began waving the white flag late Thursday night when they completed a trade to send closer David Robertson to the Marlins for two players in Rookie ball, infielder Marco Vargas and catcher Ronald Hernandez.
Robertson has been one of the Mets' best players this season with a 2.05 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 40 appearances. He's saved 14 games and gone more than an inning eight times. For large chunks of the season, he was the only reliable late-inning reliever for a Mets team that hasn't been able to overcome the season-ending knee injury suffered by Edwin Diaz in the World Baseball Classic.
The Mets opened the season with a payroll of approximately $363 million — $90 million more than the next-closest team. It's staggering to think about the team with the highest payroll in MLB history selling off a veteran rental to a division rival that barely cracked $100 million and has a history of selling off themselves. but that's how horribly wrong things in Flushing have gone this season. The Mets are 48-54, seven games back of the final National League wild-card spot with five teams in between.
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Miami is 55-48, a half-game behind the Phillies and Reds, who currently occupy the last two wild-card spots. The Marlins are just 2-8 since the All-Star break, and closer A.J. Puk has blown three of his last four save opportunities, allowing nine runs in 6⅓ innings since July 4. This is a well-timed trade for them.
Robertson is on a one-year, $10 million contract. It's the second straight summer he's been traded. The Phillies acquired him from the Cubs last deadline day for 23-year-old right-handed pitching prospect Ben Brown, who had a 2.65 ERA in 11 starts at Double A after the trade but hasn't pitched as well at Triple A this summer.
Robertson has turned into a hired gun of sorts. He spent 2018 with the Yankees, 2019 with the Phillies, 2021 with the Rays, 2022 with the Cubs and Phillies, 2023 with the Mets and now Marlins.
The trade deadline is Tuesday, August 1. The Phillies are known to be in search of a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder. The market for those bats isn't exactly plentiful, and at least two more teams — the Dodgers and Twins — are interested in the same thing.
It's unclear just how many pieces the Mets will trade, but it would make obvious sense for them to deal Tommy Pham and Mark Canha, two players who would fit the above description. Both are on expiring contracts. Pham will be due about $2 million the rest of the season. Canha will be owed about $4.5 million. The Mets are a team that would likely prefer to eat salary to receive a better prospect in return, but neither player should cost anything big.
Pham is having a better season of the two, hitting .266/.349/.464 with 15 doubles, nine homers and 11 steals in 12 attempts. Canha has a disciplined eye and gets on base but doesn't have as much extra-base pop.
The Mets have already made one intradivision trade, so another can't be ruled out.