Sandy Alderson wants the Mets to remain competitive for the remainder of the reason. So the GM will not be trading off pieces to clear room for prospects to play unless the organization receives a noteworthy return.

"What we've been trying to do for the last several years is stockpile talent, clear payroll with significant complications, and then be as competitive as we can possibly be without sacrificing Nos. 1 and 2,” Alderson said. “In order for us to sacrifice No. 3 [competitiveness], it has to be a material advantage in talent for us to do that. Is that going to happen? I don't know."

Here’s the case for the three July 31 trade-deadline scenarios:

1. Sell. Marlon Byrd would figure to be an attractive piece for a contender because of his production (.271, 15 HR, 51 RBIs) and because he is making only $700,000 this season. Of course, the low salary -- less than $280,000 remains owed -- means the Mets will not feel compelled to trade him unless they get a hefty return. Remember, the Mets did not trade Scott Hairston last July, then let him walk.

In a dream scenario, Frank Francisco returns before the end of the month and the Mets can find a taker. Francisco has started a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League and is owed $2.6 million for the remainder of the season on his original two-year, $12 million deal.

Francisco should be able to get traded in August, too, because no one would dare put in a claim on his contract. If someone were to put in a claim to block an August trade, the Mets could just dump the remaining contract on that team.

With Travis d’Arnaud no better than a September call-up, the Mets figure to hold onto John Buck. His production has dipped so drastically anyway it is unclear there would actually be a market.

One relatively productive Met in the final year of a contract: 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins.

The Dodgers were scouting the Mets in Pittsburgh, for whatever that’s worth.