billy eppler mets
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While we’re still waiting for the majority of their moves, the Mets are primed for an expensive winter after a 101-win campaign in 2022. Will one of those additions be keeping homegrown ace Jacob deGrom in Queens? It’s starting to look more likely than it did a couple of weeks ago. But still, your guess is as good as mine.

The one big move New York has made thus far is re-signing closer Edwin Diaz to a record contract of five years and $102 million. He was made available to the media on Thursday afternoon to discuss the deal. General manager Billy Eppler was also in attendance, which meant he had to field questions about what else the Mets are up to.

As you can imagine, Epp Dogg is busy (quotes via SNY):

Without getting into specifics, I can just say I’m having active and pretty regular dialogue on a number of fronts. There’s the volume of phone calls and connections that we’re making on a daily basis — starting and relief and the position player market. It’s pretty constant. That’s the update.

He was also asked if the Mets would need to know deGrom’s decision before acting on other potential options in the open market. Here’s what he said to that:

I wouldn’t say that’s critically important. We’ve assessed the market, and we’ve had enough dialogue to try to get a sense of what we think is going to be a reality. We are positioned to be able to execute other things if it makes sense, and we get close enough. We don’t need one thing to happen first before other things can become a reality.

This is interesting because of New York’s other activity so far during free agency. They’ve met with a number of top pitchers. This includes Kodai Senga, Justin Verlander, and Carlos Rodon. The Amazins have also been connected to guys like Andrew Heaney and Jameson Taillon, as well as having an interest in re-signing Chris Bassitt.

But earlier this week, we heard some speculation from Joel Sherman of the New York Post regarding the Mets’ spending. We know the club wants to bring center fielder Brandon Nimmo back. However, if they want to stick to their goal of having a $300 million payroll, retaining both Nimmo and deGrom at their projected asking prices would be difficult. And with more holes in the rotation, Sherman feels that’s more of a focus for New York.

Eppler mentioned above that the front office has a decent idea of where things could go from the standpoint of player acquisition. If they really do feel there’s a good chance of deGrom returning to Flushing, I doubt they’re still in active and/or serious negotiations with Justin Verlander. He wasn’t necessarily a perfect fit for New York anyways.

Even if they’re prioritizing the rotation over Nimmo, there’s no way Eppler and Co. would leave themselves open to committing about $120 million to three pitchers at least 35 years old in deGrom, Verlander, and Max Scherzer. So if things go south with the deGrom, New York is likely fine with pivoting to some combination of Senga, Rodon, Bassitt, or Taillon instead of filling his open spot with Verlander (should they still be available).

Blowing past that self-imposed $300 million marker solely because of the rotation wouldn’t make sense. Especially since it seems like a resolution will be coming sooner there than it will with Nimmo. But if the Mets do blow past that number, I can see them justify doing so for the center fielder.

Eppler has been threading the needle perfectly on the deGrom situation, too. He’s made it clear the right-hander is a priority for them, but not to the point that New York will let it handcuff the remainder of its winter. There are plenty of roster spots to fill. As good as deGrom is, he’s only one dude.

That’s exactly what everyone should want to hear from the Mets’ general manager. But, let’s hope some major moves start happening with the Amazins involved because waiting around is starting to get a little old.

Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.