Mets’ GM Billy Eppler open to opportunities as trade deadline nears: ‘Every situation is a little different’

15 July 2023

The Mets are in a strange place as the second half of the 2023 season gets underway. After looking downright moribund in June, the team that boasts the highest payroll in the sport then reeled off six straight wins to start the month of July to go 6-4 over their final 10 games before the All-Star break. The next two weeks are going to determine whether or not the Mets continue to try to push toward a playoff spot or sell off veterans in the hopes of trying to build toward the future.

“It’s the consistency aspect that really kind of needs to take hold,” general manager Billy Eppler said Friday from the Citi Field dugout ahead of a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. “We were encouraged by what we were seeing going into the break and hope to continue and continue on a similar path.”

The belief amongst those in the clubhouse is that they finally showed what it’s capable of during that six-game winning streak. They got solid starting pitching, they played clean, crisp defense and the offense drove in runs. Francisco Alvarez, Francisco Lindor and Tommy Pham were among the biggest contributors, picking things up for some of their teammates who were struggling with the bat.

But with some improved results from starting pitchers Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Kodai Senga and Carlos Carrasco over the few weeks, the Mets see positive trends. Left-hander Jose Quintana was activated Friday and will make his season debut next week against the Chicago White Sox. The club will keep left-hander David Peterson in the bullpen for the foreseeable future to add some protection for Quintana, who may not be able to go deep into games right away.

“Starting now is not optimal,” Eppler said. “But these are the circumstances.”

However, the July Mets looked more like the June Mets in San Diego last weekend. It’s tough to know which team will show up in the second half. Much of the work Eppler will do over the next few weeks has to do with figuring out whether or not the Mets can save their season. His analytics team will put together predictive models while the GM attempts to gauge the market to figure out what other teams are doing and how they could help the Mets.

The way the Mets played going into the break will be a factor, but that one week won’t be the deciding factor.

“You kind of look at all of it, but you do wait,” Eppler said. “[You look at] things that have happened more from this year. I don’t think you can really look at a week. I kind of honor some of the things that have happened recently, but you look at the season as a whole, and you kind of look at the track record. You look at the projections were and you look to see if those projections have been updated. Then, kind of make your call based on what other teams are saying too.”

The Mets begin the second half of the season with a 42-48 record, seven games out of a Wild Card spot. Fangraphs gives the Mets a 0.0% chance of winning the AL East but a 14.8% chance of reaching the postseason.

Last month, owner Steve Cohen said the front office is prepared for all scenarios. Eppler has fielded some calls from teams interested in certain players on the Mets’ roster but his preliminary conversations with other teams have mostly been about their objectives and goals so far. The GM, now in his second season with the Mets, said he is “open to any opportunity.”

None of that answers the question of whether or not the Mets will be buyers, sellers or both. For now, they’re in limbo.

“You’re going to weigh [the opportunities] and see what kind of acquisitions you could make, or what would happen if you did move a piece off the team,” Eppler said. “Every situation is a little different. But it’s just an active market, so it’s kind of hard to hard to predict what ultimately will happen and what might drive another team to do something.”


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