The New York Mets face a crucial stretch of games leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. These games will determine whether Sandy Alderson tests interest in his valuable trade pieces, or holds onto them for a second-half playoff run. Numerous players, from Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, to Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera, could be available. Through it all, one player remained untouchable: Jacob deGrom.

That all changed when Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated and MLB Network reported on the Houston Astros‘  interest in the 29-year-old righty. The Astros could certainly use deGrom on their staff, given that they missed out on acquiring Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox last week. The White Sox received quite a haul from the Chicago Cubs in the Quintana trade. The Mets could certainly fetch an equally hefty return package for deGrom.

But should they deal their ace? Should they trade one of the lone bright spots on this season’s team? deGrom owns a 10-3 record with a 3.51 ERA and 141 strikeouts this season. He has 45 strikeouts in his last 46 innings pitched.

“I’m out there trying to put us in a position to win,” deGrom said of the trade rumors in a Q & A with The New York Post’s Steve Serby. “You can’t think of that other stuff that’s kind of out of your control, and you just want to go out there and continue to compete.”

He offered a more interesting response on the Astros after Friday’s win, saying “that’s a good baseball team.” That answer is hardly music to Mets’ fans ears.

While deGrom’s consistency this season makes him an attractive trade piece, the Mets should turn their focus to impending free agent players like Reed, Bruce, or Blevins. Bruce has been the team’s most dominant offensive producer, with 23 home runs and 59 runs batted in at the All-Star Break. He is due $6 million this season and is no stranger to trade rumors.

“I understand this side of it, I’ve been a part of it,” Bruce said. “This is my third or fourth year being part of trade rumors. I will be ready for whatever happens. I get it.”

Reed converted 15 of 17 saves through the All-Star Break, while Blevins struck out 39 batters in 44 appearances in the same span. The trade market for relievers is especially active at the deadline as contenders try and sure up their respective bullpens.

By that standard, deGrom appears safe. Plus, the Mets are getting exceptional value from him. He does not reach unrestricted free agent status until 2021. Even Alderson himself provided a vote of confidence in his ace on Friday.

“I’d say that sort of trade is exceedingly unlikely,” Alderson told reporters when broached on the subject. “What would we do without Jake deGrom next year?”

Perhaps Alderson is already thinking past this season with those comments. At the same time, he insisted this year “is not a teardown situation.” These upcoming series of games will determine whether that statement bears any truth.

 

Jesse Andreozzi is a staff writer at Outside Pitch Sports Network covering the New York Mets. Follow him on Twitter @Jesse_Andreozzi