Originally written on The Baseball Page  |  Last updated 6/29/12

The trading deadline is just over a month away and the New York Mets are in a unique position as buyers. The team's good first half and addition of the second wild card to the playoff format makes it more likely the Mets will have a chance to clinch a playoff spot. The problem, however, is that the second playoff spot opens up the race to a lot of teams, creating a scenario where there are even more buyers and fewer sellers in the trade market than ever before. There are only five teams with no shot at the postseason right now (San Diego, Seattle, Minnesota, Colorado, and the Chicago Cubs) making it a clear seller's market. 

The Mets do need to improve their team if they want to make a run at the playoffs, but they should not do it at the expense of one of the team's top young prospects (such as pitchers Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, or Jenrry Mejia). Given their prospect limitations, the Mets should be focused on trying to find an arm to help their much beleaguered bullpen, whose 5.09 bullpen ERA ranks dead last in Major League Baseball. Since the Mets don't have the established prospects to give away for a top bullpen arm, they will need to be creative about how to improve their situation. One such solution could be to use money to essentially "buy" a player from a team who needs financial relief.

  Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson has told the media throughout the season that he has room to add payroll if it is necessary, and taking on an overpaid reliever's salary would significantly diminish the prospect cost of such an acquisition. One such reliever could be San Diego's Huston Street, who is being paid seven and a half million dollars this season. The Padres always seem to be having money troubles, and if the Mets were to offer a B or C level prospect and take on all of Street's contract the Padres may be willing to deal.

This strategy could be used by several teams, so the Mets should have several targets in mind besides Street. Other potential trade candidates include Houston's Brett Myers, Minnesota's Matt Capps, and old friend Francisco Rodriguez of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Mets simply have to fix their bullpen if they want to reach the playoffs. The team has blown 13 saves so far this season, and if the Mets converted half of them they would be in first place in the National League East right now. If the opportunity presents itself to get a solid reliever, within reason, the Mets need to take it.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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