Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard, and Yoenis Cespedes.
Two weeks ago this would’ve been a random compilation of MLB players on the Atlanta Braves, Oakland A’s, and Detroit Tigers.
Today they all dress in blue and orange, ready to help the New York Mets in their first pennant race since 2008.
This deadline marks the Mets’ largest haul since 2004, when they (disastrously) added starting pitchers Victor Zambrano and Kris Benson. Something feels different this time.
This July, for the first time in years, the Mets addressed imminent needs by trading potential future assets for immediate improvements. All without tapping into their core of major league starting pitchers, they dealt mostly mid-tier prospects (and a few upper-tier) to revamp their lineup and bullpen at an entirely crucial time.
Cespedes enters Sunday with a team-leading .291 batting average and 61 RBI, alongside 18 HRs, second only to Lucas Duda. Uribe’s .273 and Johnson’s .270 averages fill the #2 and #3 slots on the Mets’ leaderboards, with a combined 19 HRs between the two.
Clippard, acquired one day before reliever Jennry Mejia was suspended for 162 games, brings to the table just what the Mets need to fill his void: set-up and closing experience, a 2.61 ERA, and three scoreless outings with the Mets thus far.
Fans and reporters have repeatedly claimed that the Mets, with just an average offense, could be a massive threat due to their top-level starting pitching. With the offensive additions, coupled with the return of catcher Travis d’Arnaud and expected return of David Wright, the Mets’ offense is below average no longer.
Lucas Duda, Yoenis Cespedes, and Travis d’Arnaud round out a respectable middle of the order, part of a lineup that general manager Sandy Alderson should be proud of as the Mets enter August, still loaded with young talent, and now graced with skilled veterans, including a legitimate superstar in Cespedes.
Zambrano and Benson didn’t quite work out as the Mets had hoped over a decade ago, but something about this deadline feels different. There is optimism brewing among Mets fans, who’ve foreclosed on their homes in Panic City. For the first time in years the team is playing meaningful games in August, and the front office displayed that the Mets have finally transitioned from “next year” mode to competing in the present.
This July the Mets added a handful of quality bats and a skilled set-up man to their roster, and this October the Mets will hope to reap the benefits of a front office finally confident enough in its roster to make the push to win it all.