By Ernie Palladino
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Now that their season has left the building, the Mets have no other choice but to sell, sell, sell as the trade deadline approaches.
It’s not like the contenders who will blow up Sandy Alderson’s cellphone will have a paucity of talent to choose from. Just about everybody except Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, and possibly Wilmer Flores should be available for the picking.
That’s how it goes when a team falls about a mile and a half below expectations. But it also presents an interesting question regarding two outfielders who could prove most enticing to teams chasing a postseason dream.
Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce would provide a nice power punch to any of those teams. They might even bring back some quality — an arm to bolster the questionable bullpen, a middle infielder to replace a disgruntled Asdrubal Cabrera until prize prospect Ahmed Rosario rises from Triple-A.
But which one should Alderson get rid of? Or should he send both packing, considering each has reached his walk year?
Keeping either or both would put the Mets in danger of losing a valuable commodity for nothing in the open market. The Mets have enough problems without giving talent away gratis. And their best efforts, even Herculean ones, won’t dig their battered team out of an 11-game wild card hole.
So at least one of them has to go.
Most likely, it will be Granderson. He’s the very definition of an ideal, late-season rental.
At 36, he has just enough left in the tank to give a contender a little extra pop. Unless the early-season struggles that had his batting average at .122 on May 3 return, he’ll make a nice addition to someone. If he continues hitting at his .333 (20-for-60) clip for June, contenders should be clamoring for him.
Alderson should easily be willing to part with him. Or at least have a talk with his agent about the possibility of re-signing him to a very moderate contract considering his age.
If committing long-term is in Alderson’s mind, then Bruce might be the keeper. He’s six years younger than Granderson, and has come back nicely from his disastrous stretch run last year after his arrival from the Reds.
Bruce’s 20 homers lead the Mets, as do his 52 RBIs. But is he the kind of player Alderson would want to commit to for about four years, $76 million? Remember, this was a guy the Mets tried mightily to trade in the offseason, and then contemplated just cutting outright when they found no takers.
It does seem Bruce has found his comfort level in New York. Assuming his accomplishments this season reflect his true self going forward, keeping him would set up a desirable outfield power trio of Conforto, Cespedes, and Bruce for 2018.
Keep one. Trade both. Keep both.
The phone calls will dictate how Alderson views the two.
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