What's their situation?
The Mets' presence in October looks pretty likely, although it's not a sure thing. They went into the All-Star break leading the NL East by 3.5 games over the Philadelphia Phillies, with a record of 47-40. After a slow start in April, they exploded to go 17-9 in May. This helped them improve from the fourth-worst record in the NL to the top of their division by the end of the month.
Winning the division – something they did last in 2015 – appears to be the safest way for them to make it into the postseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers (56-35) and the San Diego Padres (53-40), the two clubs currently in ownership of the two wild card spots, both have records considerably better than New York at this point. If one of them manages to win the NL West, the San Francisco Giants (currently at 57-32) suddenly become the Mets' competition for the wild card.
New York finished the first half of the season with a winning record within the division, 19-18. But against their two main threats, the Phillies and the Braves, they are at 14-10. The Braves, unfortunately, lost Ronald Acuña Jr. for the season due to a torn ACL, so their already-average offensive productivity (100 wRC+) may take a dip during the second half. With the Mets having one of baseball's best pitching staffs, making the right additions in this trade deadline could be key to put them over the top in the NL East.
Steven Cohen, the team's new boss since last October, is baseball's richest team owner with a net worth that has reached the $16 billion thresholds last April, according to Forbes. Not three months after acquiring Francisco Lindor from Cleveland last January, Cohen demonstrated his business aggressiveness and locked him up in late March with a 10-year, $341 million extension. Not only this proves his total commitment to building a World Series-caliber team, but it also puts the Mets into a very convenient position when they need to lure free agents or top trade targets into the club.
Trading for and then signing Lindor to an extension wasn't the only move from the Mets for this season. Over the winter, they made some key free-agent additions, such as keeping Marcus Stroman, as well as All-Star starter Taijuan Walker, former All-Star catcher James McCann, and our dear Trevor May. The Mets being in a position of entering a pennant race after the trade deadline additions is certainly not an accident.
What do they need?
As good as the Mets' pitching staff has been, they could still use some help. Their starting rotation has produced 9.9 fWAR (4th most in baseball) while also having the second-best ERA, with 2.98, and the best FIP, at 3.36. However, they did that relying basically on three arms: Stroman, Walker, and Jacob deGrom, who's having one of the most dominant seasons a starting pitcher has had in years, possibly decades.
Outside of the trio mentioned above, if you put together all the other pitchers who started at least one game for the Mets this season, they have a combined 4.62 ERA and 4.61 FIP. If they don't pursue pitching help now, that's the kind of productivity they'll be relying on should any severe injuries happen to one of their top three starters. Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have slight chances of returning to the team this season, but that definitely shouldn't be something to count on. If you're the Mets, shopping for a solid starter to strengthen your rotation in the second half and into October should be your top priority.
Next on their list are, of course, bats. The Mets as a team have had a very poor offense – to sugarcoat it – throughout this season, ranking 17th in wRC+ (93) and 25th in OPS (.683), while striking out 24.4% of the time, which represents the 10th highest percentage in baseball. They've produced the second-fewest runs in all of baseball so far this season, with a total of 327. deGrom, who constantly doesn't get run support from New York's lineup, has a .758 OPS, which is higher than those of seven of the eight qualified hitters in the team. Lindor appears to have found his mojo this month, but he's had an abysmal first three months as a Met, being booed several times by the fans.
J.D. Davis has been sidelined for most of the season, which creates a huge gap in their lineup. Even though he's expected to be activated very soon, you have no idea what version of him is coming back from the injured list. So it makes a lot of sense to look for some help at third base. Besides, if he does come back hitting as well as he was in April, they can easily move him to one of their corner outfield spots.
Good pitching is never enough, but so far, the Mets haven't been linked to any significant relief pitching rumors. They appear to be satisfied with what their bullpen is bringing to the table, a staff with a 2.12 WPA so far this season, the 12th-best in baseball. Seven of their eight most-used relievers this season have a sub-four ERA.
Which Twins are the best fit?
Having that in mind, the Twins may immediately become the best trading partner available for New York, as they can kill two birds with one stone by dealing with Minnesota.
Josh Donaldson might not be a frontrunner, but he would be the perfect fit for the Mets. Earlier this month, it was reported that both sides started preliminary talks. However, things didn't progress. Nonetheless, 'The Bringer of Rain' is undeniably an upgrade over veteran Jonathan Villar, the Mets' primary hot corner starter this season. Donaldson's .831 OPS for the season (1.035 over his last 30 games) are considerably above Villar's .745. Besides, even with some of his defensive metrics being below his career average right now, Donaldson still provides the Mets much better defense.
José Berríos is the next big thing the Twins have to offer. The former All-Star is not an ace, as we all know, but he is absolutely solid and, at 27 and under team control for this season and next, the upside is huge. After 18 starts this season, 'La Makina' is posting some career numbers, such as 3.48 ERA, 3.40 FIP, and 1.10 WHIP. In several metrics, Berríos is a superior pitcher to Walker himself, providing more strikeouts and giving up fewer walks. Having Berríos as their number three or four starter would make the Met rotation much, much scarier.
Adding Berríos would also be huge for New York because both Stroman and Syndergaard will be free agents at the end of the season. The upside that he brings to the table is so significant that some Mets fans even consider him the 'condition' to accept all the potential downside of bringing in Donaldson, such as the age, the injury history, and the high salary. However, names like Kris Bryant, Adam Frazier, and Eduardo Escobar might get in the way of them making another blockbuster trade, such as the one they did with Cleveland in January.
Who could the Twins get back?
In mid-June, New York-based SNY presented this package in exchange for Berríos:
Ronny Mauricio, a 20-year-old shortstop, is currently the organization's #2 prospect, while J.T. Ginn (RHP) is their #6, and Junior Santos (RHP) their #11. While this is a package containing some of your best-ranked prospects, looking at their productivity in the minors this season makes you think. Santos', who's only 19, still hasn't had a very good season in the Mets' system, with a 4.37 career ERA so far. On the other hand, Ginn has a solid 2.48 ERA this season, his first out of college, but the sample might still be too small to judge him.
Mauricio is a very attractive piece, even though he doesn't have eye-popping numbers so far. However, it's uncertain how much the Twins would be willing to have the most valuable trade piece be a shortstop. This position already accounts for four of the team's top 30 prospects list, including their #1, Royce Lewis, and #7, Keoni Cavaco. Not to mention that Nick Gordon just made the big league team and is doing pretty well. But those are all more of a wondering than it is a reason to say no.
It's hard to imagine that the Mets would toss in anything more than this for Berríos. Would they be willing to add a low-end prospect to the package in exchange for Donaldson? As much as Berríos and Donaldson would be the perfect fit for them, perhaps they won't be willing to go any higher than something similar to what's been suggested above. They could probably land a better third baseman with those same pieces if they decide to trade with some other team. At the same time, I also feel like the Twins could get a better return in exchange for Berríos. That is if they're really willing to deal him – which we aren't sure they are.