MLB teams have until Thursday at 5 pm ET to have an exclusive negotiating window with their internal free agents. The Mets entered this winter with a total of 11 free agents, but just a handful of top priorities. Edwin Diaz was one, along with Brandon Nimmo and Jacob deGrom.
Diaz will be back in Flushing for at least the next five years. There was an initial hope New York would re-sign at least one of Nimmo or deGrom before opposing teams could start bidding. It doesn’t seem like that’ll happen, though.
Nimmo is the most complete center fielder on the open market. With plenty of teams needing one for 2023, you know agent Scott Boras wants to field multiple offers. The same can be said for deGrom. This is the 34-year-old’s first experience with free agency, so he probably wants to test the waters.
After working hard to get to this point in their respective careers, they obviously have every right to do so. We’re still in the early stages of the Hot Stove season. But from what we’ve seen from general manager Billy Eppler so far, the Mets are approaching these situations perfectly.
Eppler has mentioned on multiple occasions that there’s been an open line of communication with the representation for both players. New York’s top baseball decisionmaker also mentioned both players have an interest in returning to the Mets. But once free agency opens up, it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens.
At this point, all we have is rumors about what players like Nimmo and deGrom are looking for in their next contract. This includes predictions from “outside experts” and other writers. Things will change as the bidding begins and the mindset of various teams becomes clearer.
One specific statement from Eppler made my ears perk up on Tuesday night, though. He said this while talking about deGrom (quote via SNY):
Everybody knows we got business to do. That’s part of the communication from our side to them and to everybody, we have business to do. There are players we want to acquire, things we want to accomplish this winter. We’re going to get down to it.
But that draws back to my earlier statement where we want to stay in communication with each other and to be very transparent with each other. They’ll have a sense of what we’re doing and hopefully we’ll have a sense of what they’re doing.
Eppler also said he and deGrom’s agents have made a “pact” to stay in touch.
I absolutely love this. With so many impact players hitting free agency from their roster, it’d be easy to get caught up in trying to retain them. In a best-case scenario, would the Mets like to have Nimmo and deGrom back for 2023 and beyond? Well, of course. I’m sure that’s been clearly communicated in several discussions leading up to this point in the offseason.
Judging from how open the communication has been, according to Eppler, some desired contract figures have probably been shared by both parties. New York has made it clear that these guys are a priority, but there are dozens of players out there looking for a new home, too. And the world isn’t going to stop until they make a decision to return or not.
This feels similar to how things transpired with the Atlanta Braves and Freddie Freeman last winter. It hopefully won’t go down the way it did there, but when the Braves thought it was time to move on, that’s what they did instead of waiting around.
As Eppler said above, the Mets have work to do. New York has offseason goals to hit so they’re comfortable contending for the postseason again in 2023. They’ll make competitive offers to retain both of their stars. If it feels necessary to get a deal done, Eppler may increase that offer a smidge.
But if another team offers way more than the Mets are comfortable with, they’re OK with going in a different direction. Again, would it be ideal for both of these dudes to remain in the Orange and Blue? Absolutely. However, the organization appears confident in whatever direction needs to be taken.
Not being worried about the walls caving in on the Mets if an impact player decides to sign elsewhere, or watching them miss out on opportunities because of tunnel vision is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?