Trade candidates for Mets, GM Billy Eppler to consider before 2023 MLB trade deadline

Memorial Day marks the unofficial date when baseball fans can start checking the standings. The Mets survived a bumpy few weeks and have sparked a winning streak, reeling off five straight against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Guardians. They head into a six-game road trip with a chance to make up more ground against the Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies.

However, the Mets have played 48 games and only three times has a pitcher gotten through seven innings. Justin Verlander has done it twice, throwing eight innings Sunday against the Guardians to give the bullpen a much-needed reprieve before a day off. The team’s most pressing issue is starting pitching, with the club having burned through all of the depth way back in April and a staff that routinely fails to go deep into games.

Mets starters have posted a 5.09 ERA, which ranks 25th in the league. The 238 and 2/3 innings pitched is the 10th fewest in baseball. The bullpen has had to pick up a lot of work and it has proven costly at times.

Right-handers David Peterson and Tylor Megill, two depth starters who were so crucial for the Mets in 2022, have struggled. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco has been injured at times and sometimes ineffective. Left-hander Jose Quintana is working his way back from bone graft surgery but the Mets aren’t ready to put a firm timeline on a return given the nature of the injury and the procedure.

The Mets are going to have to make a trade. It’s not what they wanted when they entered the season, but they don’t have any starters in Triple-A who are ready to contribute regularly at the big league level. The club has been conscious of keeping its top prospects in order to build that element of sustainability they desire, but general manager Billy Eppler has a tough task on his hands this summer. He’ll have to balance the desire to win this season with the desire to win in the future.

Starting pitching might not come cheap, but there are options out there for upgrades. The Mets should also look to add a bat at the deadline too but that’s a story for another day. For now, here’s an early look at some starting pitching candidates:


The White Sox might be looking at a restart of sorts and if that’s the case, they should look to shop their ace. Giolito was an All-Star in 2019 and finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting twice and 11th once. The 28-year-old Los Angeles area native would be a rental with his contract expiring after this season, and he may not be cheap, but adding another ace to the staff down the stretch might be worth it. The right-hander has showcased great control this season by walking less than two batters per nine innings (1.81) and it’s worthing noting since the Mets’ staff as a whole has the fifth-highest walk rate in baseball (3.78).


Cease has also suffered from some early season struggles and the Mets probably don’t need another pitcher with control issues, but Cease is only 27 and has two years of arbitration remaining. This might make a trade more palatable.


When the Mets were blanked by Rodriguez through eight innings in Detroit a few weeks ago, it was tough not to watch that game and think, “This team could use a guy like him.” Rodriguez is 4-3 with a 2.06 ERA for the Tigers this season. It’s the best the left-hander has looked since he was in Boston. He’s signed through 2026, but he can opt out of his contract following the season. If he plans to opt out, the Tigers would likely look to move him by Aug. 1. He’s probably the club’s biggest trade chip since Verlander. If he doesn’t opt out, the 30-year-old would have three years and $49 million remaining on his deal.


In the matchup of Justin vs. Bieber, Verlander prevailed Sunday night at Citi Field. But the two dueled for eight innings and the 27-year-old former Cy Young Award winner was as advertised. Bieber has two years on his contract and Cleveland doesn’t typically hand out large deals, so the club would be wise to listen to offers. Of course, they don’t have to trade him. They could get back into the race and try to win a meager division. But if not, what they do with him would be a storyline to watch in July.


He’s 39 and his fastball velocity is well below what it used to be, but he can still get outs. Relying on a trio of pitchers on the wrong side of 30 might not be the smartest play, especially given that relievers David Robertson and Adam Ottavino are getting up there as well, but it could be a low-risk depth move. Greinke could always decide to retire a Royal and stay loyal to the team that drafted him, but a rebuilding club probably has to listen to offers.