Mets acquire RHP Mychal Givens from Cubs, and otherwise stand pat
New York brings in some help for their bullpen in Givens, but are left in the cold for a left-hander and a big bat.
As just about every baseball writer on the planet would say, “pencils down.”
The MLB trade deadline has officially passed with no remaining deals left trickling in past the 6:00 PM cutoff. And with that, the Mets did make one final addition, acquiring RHP Mychal Givens from the Cubs in exchange for RHP Saul González.
This deal was first reported by Andy Martino of SNY.
The addition of Givens to this Mets bullpen is certainly a welcome one as his 2.66 ERA, 1.1 bWAR, 159 ERA+ and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings should prove to be valuable. Givens will also join a bullpen that expects to get Trevor May back from the injured list on Wednesday, will eventually insert Tylor Megill and already features Adam Ottavino and Edwin Díaz at the back end.
Givens also provides the Mets with a veteran presence that has experienced pitching in the postseason once in his career, during the 2016 AL Wild Card Game with manager Buck Showalter, who he now reunites with.
What the acquisition of Givens does not address, however, is the club’s desperate need for an answer from the left-side of the bullpen. In 64 plate appearances vs left-handed hitters this season, the opposition has posted a .751 OPS against Givens. He has been much more effective against righties, holding them to a .594 OPS over 108 plate appearances this season.
Givens, 32, is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of this season.
Ultimately, the Mets chose not to address the left-side of their bullpen at all, and it really comes as a surprise. New York’s sole lefty in their pen is Joely Rodríguez, who has struggled all season long and there seems to be no alternate internal solution in sight. David Peterson has had a very solid season as a starter but has struggled in his very limited time in relief this year, most recently blowing a save vs the Yankees during the Subway Series before being optioned to Triple-A.
The fact that the Mets were not able to bring in an Andrew Chafin, Sam Moll or any other left-handed reliever that may have been available comes as a surprise and a bit of a letdown. And honestly, that their entire trade deadline haul consisted of just Daniel Vogelbach, Tyler Naquin, Darin Ruf and Givens will leave a lot of people wanting.
Personally, I expected the Mets to be a lot more aggressive at the deadline this season. While it was clear that they weren’t going to part with their top-top prospects (which is a completely fine strategy), this was a team that earned a further investment from their front office. They’re 28 games over .500 and leading the defending World Champions in their division by 3.5 games, they have a legitimate shot at competing for a title themselves this year, have several key pending free agents at the end of this season and their National League competition bulked up significantly today, specifically in San Diego. If you’re not going to “go for it” this year, when will you?
On the other side of things, while a lot of people are right to feel a bit let down, there does also need to at least be a bit of perspective and balance injected into this conversation. For starters, the Mets can’t control other teams in the league acting foolishly — the Cubs and Red Sox both strangely decided to hold onto pending free agents Willson Contreras and J.D. Martinez, respectively. And this is still a really good baseball team — having a disappointing trade deadline does not change that, even if it feels like it does.
At the end of the day, there were some solid adds but none that felt as significant as they probably should have been. The additions of Vogelbach, Ruf and Naquin do improve their lineup in a platoon and depth capacity, and add a bit of pop, but not enough. The same goes for Givens — he definitely improves this bullpen, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Eventually, a few months from now, we will finally know if that winds up being the case. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out…