Sandy Alderson has come under a lot of heat from people for some of the deals he has made, while getting credit for a good amount of his trades as well. Let's look case-by-case at the tenure of Mr. Alderson.
This deal is probably the toughest to grade, as this deal was based mostly on the Mets' financial situation at the time (and an ugly option that Rodriguez had coming up). Rodriguez had a $17.5 million option that would've kicked in had he finished (not closed, simply been the last pitcher) 55 games.
The Mets actually got back two minor league relievers in this trade. One is lefty Daniel Ray Herrera, who missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery, and could be a factor in the Mets' 2013 bullpen. Herrera is going to be 28 and has yet to establish himself at the Major League-level, so it is doubtful that he will ever be much of a contributor.
Adrian Rosario had a 34/11 K/BB at High-A St Lucie last season over 28.2 innings, before being called up to Double-A Binghamton. At Double-A he posted a K/BB of 27/29 in 29.1 innings, and at age 24 he was old for the level. At best he is going to be a quad-A middle reliever-type.
All in all this deal is tough to give Alderson a win or loss on, as he dealt half a season of a reliever away for two minor league relievers. This one is a wash.
Faced with a team that wasn't headed to the playoffs, and a player whose contract was up after the season, Alderson had a pretty easy decision to make here. The difficulty came in gaining leverage, as Beltran's contract had a clause in it stating that the Mets could not offer him arbitration, and teams knew that they would be looking to trade the slugging outfielder.
There was certainly a market for Beltran, and Alderson leveraged it perfectly. He was able to acquire pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, who was averaging 4.8 BB/9 for the Giants High-A affiliate in San Jose. Wheeler closed out the season strong for the Mets in 2011, and hit Double-A in stride last year. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus ($) slapped a 7 Overall Future Potential on Wheeler, saying he could be a true ace, a #1 starter.
What really makes this deal a tremendous deal for the Mets was that they had minimal leverage, but Alderson played the market perfectly and was able to land a prospect who is now in the top 10 in baseball. Flipping 1.3 fWAR in a year in which it would not have made much of a difference for 6 years of control over a potential #1 is a definite win. Credit this one for Mr. Alderson.
This deal at the time seemed like a bit of a head-scratcher. Trading a player in Pagan who was worth a combined 8.9 bWAR for two seasons before a poor 2011 showing, for a player in Torres who seemed to be a one-hit wonder, and Ramirez, a reliever, seemed odd.
Pagan went on to be worth four bWAR in 2012, while Torres and Ramirez combined for 1.2 bWAR, all of which belonged to Torres. To make matters worse, the Mets non-tendered Torres after the season and he was resigned by the Giants.
To be fair, I don't think that Pagan would've put this team over the top into the playoffs last season. All they traded was one year of Pagan, but I would have to be a homer to call this one a win for Sandy and Co.
This is the one that could be the tenure-defining move for Alderson. You don't trade the reigning Cy Young winner unless you can get a killer haul, and Alderson got exactly the prospect haul one would demand.
d'Arnaud is a potential franchise catcher, and that is a rare commodity. Add the fact that he is a potential franchise catcher with 6 years of team control and at an absurdly cheap rate, and he alone would have been reasonable compensation. The rest of the haul was just icing on the cake.
I wonder if Alderson knew that Thole was seen as a package deal by Toronto, because he has been Dickey's main catcher since he has been in the Mets' organization. This way Alderson was able to only throw in Thole and Mike Nickeas, and obtain high-end pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, a similar player in terms of value to Thole in John Buck, and lottery ticket Wuilmer Becerra.
Syndergaard has the potential of a #2 starter, but projects to be the Mets' #3 starter behind Wheeler and Matt Harvey. His fastball sits 92-97 with sink according to reports, and he needs to find a breaking ball to complete his arsenal.
Becerra is basically the Mets playing the lottery, as his ceiling is high, but his probability is very low as he only has 30-something at-bats in professional leagues. He should play for the Mets' GCL team in 2013, and his ETA is extremely far away and he will not impact the next Mets' winner (ideally).
This deal is basically the final move that had to be made for the Mets to truly be able to target 2014, as they will now have plenty of free payroll, as well as a lot of their better prospects hopefully establishing themselves at this time. I think Sandy Alderson came into New York with a plan looking very similar to this, and has taken the necessary steps to follow that plan.
At this point, it is up to the Mets' youngsters, and whether or not they can spend their money wisely to fill the holes, primarily in the outfield. If history says anything, it's that Mets fans should trust Sandy Alderson to make the right moves.