Inbox: If traded, would Bruce return in 2018?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo fields questions from fans

Inbox: If traded, would Bruce return in 2018?

Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has come and gone, the Mets have begun making decisions with one eye toward next season. August waiver deals, playing-time implications, prospect callups and other issues dot the landscape for the Mets, who feel they can be in the thick of the 2018 postseason race.

With that as a backdrop, here's a fresh batch of questions and answers about the Mets:

Assuming the Mets want Jay Bruce on the team in 2018, does it make a difference if they trade him now or not (since he'll still be a free agent)?
-- @MrMet_CPA via Twitter

By the letter of the law, it doesn't matter, because Bruce could come back in the offseason regardless. But in reality, because these are human beings playing this game, it does.

For starters, if the Mets don't trade Bruce, they can extend him a qualifying offer, which gives them an extra avenue to retain him. Bruce would almost certainly reject that, seeking to explore free agency for the first time in his career. But keeping Bruce offers the added benefit of familiarity. For every Aroldis Chapman who returns to the team that traded him, there are dozens of players -- Yoenis Cespedes is a prime example -- who come to like their new situation and re-sign with their new team.

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Keeping Bruce for the balance of this season gives the Mets more time to negotiate with him exclusively, so that they have a better idea of each other's contract desires when the offseason comes. It also keeps his mind on New York, a place that Bruce has come to enjoy playing.

For those reasons and others, I believe the Mets will lean toward keeping Bruce this month, unless an exceptional deal falls in their lap. They consider him a potential solution for the 2018 outfield and beyond.

Bruce, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson and Bruce all cleared waivers. What's the likelihood of any of them being traded before Sept. 1?
-- @17Patri0t76 via Twitter

Based on what I just said, I consider Bruce relatively unlikely to be traded. Granderson is batting .223 and is owed roughly $5 million the rest of the way, somewhat dampening his value. Walker would be a prime possibility if not for his health issues and relative down season, which make him a risky acquisition for any contender.

That leaves Cabrera as the Mets' most likely candidate for a waiver trade. He's already asked for a trade once, and while he's cooled on that desire, the Mets still have incentive to get a deal done. Trading Cabrera would allow them to start a combination of Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores at third base, freeing first for Dominic Smith on an everyday role.

The counterargument is that given the $2 million buyout on Cabrera's 2018 option, it would effectively cost the Mets just $6.5 million to keep him as a bench player next season. That's something they'll keep in mind as they weigh August offers.

Out of these, who's most likely to be the starting second baseman next year? Gavin Cecchini? Flores? Maybe Matt Reynolds? Walker re-signs? Platoon? Other?
-- @MillManner via Twitter

Given the Mets' needs in the outfield, at third base and pitcher, second base is a position I could see them attempting to fill in-house. Some combination of Cabrera, Cecchini, Flores and T.J. Rivera could be enough to hold it down while the Mets direct their resources at finding some more stable David Wright insurance at third.

What do most scouts think of Matt Harvey's chance at success again? Will it be with the Mets?
-- @jennmc725

No one really knows, which is why it's so important for the Mets to see Harvey make even a few starts down the stretch this season. Entering his walk year in 2018, Harvey has incentive to pitch as well as he ever has. But is the ability still there? At this point, the Mets have little choice but to cross their fingers and hope.

Alderson on Harvey, Syndergaard

Assuming Harvey returns around the beginning of September, which he is on track to do, all eyes will be on his velocity, command and effectiveness.

Considering it was their biggest problem of 2017, should the Mets consider outside help for the rotation? Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta will both be free agents.
-- @Clearyinc via Twitter

Here's the problem: With Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler all returning, the Mets aren't going to be competitive in a bidding war for another stud pitcher. They know as well as you do that their top-five in-house starters aren't all going to be healthy and effective in 2018. But even if the Mets offered the most money, what incentive do Darvish and Arrieta have to walk into an uncertain situation?

Most likely, the Mets will seek rotation help from the other end, stocking their roster with veteran depth options. It's something they didn't do much of last offseason, and that came back to burn them.

Is Wright more likely to play again or become the manager?
-- @NoahCespegaard

This has become such a popular question amongst fans, and I'm not exactly sure why. To become manager, Wright would have to want to become manager. Even if he truly felt his playing days were complete, I'm not sure that would be the case. And for now, Wright still very much intends to be an active player again, however unrealistic that may be.

Trust me when I say that managing a big league team is the last thing on Wright's mind.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.