How will you remember the two hours when everyone was convinced free-agent Carlos Correa was signing with the Mets? An agreement between both parties was always a long shot for many reasons. However, New York getting involved in the 11th hour (even if it was just to drive up the price) shows anything is possible with Cohen’s Mets.
With Correa headed to the Bay for the next 13 years, what should the Amazins do now? General manager Billy Eppler and his front office still have plenty of work to do ahead of spring training.
Keep adding to Mets’ bullpen
The current definites for Buck Showalter’s bullpen include Edwin Diaz, David Robertson, Drew Smith, and Brooks Raley. John Curtiss, who rehabbed from Tommy John with the Mets last year, and Zach Greene (a recent Rule 5 Draft pick) also appear to have an upper hand. Outside of that, it’s an open competition.
New York would benefit from another impact arm or two. I recently talked about five relievers they could pursue. Ideally, I’d want Adam Ottavino and Andrew Chafin. Otto was a huge piece of the Mets’ bullpen last year, and Chafin would join Raley as the second lefty.
Find another bat for Mets’ lineup
The Mets did what was necessary to keep Brandon Nimmo in Queens. Upon looking at the center field market, nobody could offer what Nimmo provides: solid defense and above-average offense in the leadoff spot. But if we look at New York’s projected 2023 lineup, it looks virtually the same as 2022.
As I’ve said several times, this isn’t bad since their 115 team wRC+ was the third-highest mark in baseball. However, Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor need someone else who can provide some power. Mike Mayer of Metsmerized reports New York has shown interest in old friend Michael Conforto, as well as J.D. Martinez. I think I’d prefer a right-handed hitter in this instance, so someone like Martinez or even Adam Duvall could be a good fit.
Trade James McCann and Darin Ruf
When you’re so active in player acquisition, not every move is going to work out. That’s what has happened with the James McCann signing and the trade for Darin Ruf.
Francisco Alvarez reached the majors last September/October. New York needs to have the top prospect begin the regular season in the big leagues. There will likely be bumps along the way, but there’s no way his offense will be any worse than McCann. The veteran backstop has posted a .610 OPS in 182 games since joining the Mets in 2021.
As for Ruf, we all know how much he struggled upon getting acquired at August’s trade deadline. His performance resulted in a 24 wRC+ and -0.9 fWAR in only 29 games played.
McCann’s reputation behind the plate will hopefully help garner legitimate interest from other teams now that Willson Contreras is signed and Sean Murphy has been traded. As for Ruf, he’s only making $3 million in 2023. If New York can’t find a trade partner, he should just be designated for assignment. It’s a cost the Mets can easily absorb.
Extend Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil
I said this needed to happen before New York started going nuts in the free-agent market. Watching Jacob deGrom leave for the Texas Rangers made it that much more important, too. And, seeing New York retain Nimmo for what could be the rest of his MLB career should be the start of a new organizational trend.
Extension season typically kicks off once the heavy lifting for the upcoming year is complete (so, like February/March). That’s partially why I’m listing this as one of the last things. Both Alonso and McNeil have already made their mark on the franchise record books. They’re also both set to hit the open market after the 2024 season. There’s no reason New York can’t find common ground and join Nimmo as the next lifetime Mets.
Other minor moves
Outside of what’s outlined above, Eppler and his front office will surely be on the lookout for other depth/minor-league signings. They’ll listen to trade offers for guys like Carlos Carrasco thanks to perceived depth in the rotation, but that’s more of a luxury than a necessity.
We’ve seen the Mets make solid offseason moves in past years, only to not finish the job. Based on New York’s record spending, we can assume Cohen’s team won’t stop until they feel as though the roster is as ready as it can possibly be ahead of Opening Day.