Jacob deGrom did not figure in the decision again at Citi Field and Jose Bautista continued to be the consistent hitter for the Mets Friday night. These are two prominent names that scouts in attendance came to see with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline nearing in.
It was Jacob deGrom out of the game again with a no-decision after tossing a season-high tying 8.0 innings and it was “Joey Bats” with his first career walk-off home run.
Bautista got the grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning, his sixth in a 15-year career that has included many big hits and the home run ball. But the Mets are going to rebuild and Bautista will figure prominently in plans for other teams that need a consistent hitter to get them where they want to be.
And all that deGrom talk about leaving New York, well that more likely is all talk. That is, unless that other New York team with a need for a Jacob deGrom is willing to talk and move a Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, or Justin Sheffield the Yankees top pitching prospect.
According to the many scouts who watched him, Jacob deGrom can make the difference. But there seemed to be more of an interest in Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and they will evaluate left -hander Steven Matz who gets the start Saturday afternoon against Tampa Bay.
And before the Mets 5-1 walk-off win, a rare one at home, one of three interim GM’s, John Ricco, hinted that Noah Syndergaard was staying put. There were also hints that deGrom, who lowered his MLB-best ERA to 1.79 was not going anywhere.
These are the Mets now, a team that will be in transition and on the rebuild. When will the exodus of veterans and walk-off free agents begin, that is the speculation. In the meantime, Bautista, hitting .300 with four homers and 15 RBI in his last 19 games, does have value and has reached base in 18 of his last 19 games.
“Top-tier production out of a guy we got from Atlanta, who let him go, so that’s surprising,” said manager Mickey Callaway. He’s got the body of a 25-year old, stay in shape.”
As for deGrom, 39 years old, Callaway knows when his right-hander is on the mound there is always that opportunity for a win. Except, as known, the Mets do not score many runs when he is on the mound and that accounts for nine no-decisions in 19 starts this season.
“Like I said before, the goal is to win, whether I get the win or somebody else,” deGrom said. “The goal is to win baseball games and we got a win tonight.”
And this is more of a reason why the Mets will retain Jacob deGrom. There is that ability to work ahead in the counts and attack the strike zone, along with that ability to be patient and go along with this rebuilding plan.
This rebuild will take time, and the Mets with proper prospects can work around their ace of the pitching staff, and if trade talk is a distraction, one would never know. Jacob deGrom gets the ball and keeps the Mets in ballgames. That will be an asset as the team tries to finish with some respectability in the second half of this losing first half.
That major aspect which impresses scouts, is the composure. He threw a home run ball for the third straight game, a fastball that got away to Willy Adames on a 1-2 pitch in the fifth inning, a tying solo shot that accounted for the only Tampa Bay run.
“Threw it where I wanted it,” deGrom said. “He got to it.” His manager said, “We need to win games when Jacob deGrom pitches.” There is no doubt what the manager said as the Mets have the premiere pitcher in the league and top three in the game.
But the record does not show that for now. The rebuild will begin and a healthy Jacob deGrom will get more wins and the Mets will work around him as the ace. The scouts will continue to watch because you never know what offers can come to the table before July 31st.
And with meaningless baseball being played at Citi Field, well there is something that is worth the price of admission and that is getting a close look at Jacob deGrom on the mound.
For Mets fans this is their ace and for a team that will begin the rebuilding process, this is where it all begins.