CARLSBAD, Calif. — This week’s general managers’ meetings ideally would begin for the Mets with a new front office leader in place, but so much for the best laid plans.
Instead, Sandy Alderson, the team president, is directing the offseason, while the Mets search for a baseball operations chief. He will lead the Mets delegation for four days in Southern California to meet with agents and other executives about potential player acquisitions during this unusual offseason.
Without a collective bargaining agreement in place and the threat of a December lockout real, it’s possible this event — which normally serves as a primer for the winter meetings — will simply be a precursor to two or three months of emptiness.
Alderson presided over the early business last winter with mixed results, despite the fact that the GM meetings were cancelled due to the pandemic. It was Alderson — then still officially awaiting his return to the Mets upon Steve Cohen’s approval as the new owner — who told former general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, days before firing him, to extend the qualifying offer to Marcus Stroman. The Mets received the offer, and now have an important piece of their starting rotation.
Alderson moved quickly to reach an agreement with Trevor May on a $15 million two-year contract. (Maybe overpaying for a reliever that produced a 0.4% bWAR and then miscalculated badly on the catching market. J.T. would not be satisfied if Alderson waited. Alderson signed James McCann to a four-year contract worth $40.6 million. Realmuto was the top free agent at the position. McCann gave the Mets a presence behind the plate, but was a disappointment offensively — he owned a .246/.299/.387 slash line with 10 homers and 46 RBIs.
The Mets will need to fill in the outfield, third base, and starting rotations as the offseason begins.
After a season in the which Carlos Carrasco and Jacob deGrom were both on the injured list, the rotation needs are urgent. The team’s most dependable starter from 2021, Stroman, is a free agent and even if Noah Syndergaard returns — he is expected to accept the team’s qualifying offer worth $18.4 million — there are questions about his durability after nearly two full seasons missed rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
The Mets must decide if Stroman is right for them or if they want to go in a different direction in the free-agent market, which includes names like Robbie Ray and Kevin Gausman. Although Max Scherzer is a fascinating name, the future Hall of Famer may not be open to the idea of moving east after last season with the Dodgers. The Reds have shown that they are serious about cost-cutting by waiving Wade Miley, who was purchased by the Cubs for $10million. Could Sonny Gray still be available? It’s certainly a question Alderson and his lieutenants should ask.
Michael Conforto was also a qualifying offer recipient. The Mets will have to decide if a long-term deal is feasible for their outfielder. Conforto was able to play late in the season but was disappointing overall. He missed more than a month due to a strained right hip. Conforto tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before spring training began. With or without Conforto, it’s possible the Mets could pursue Kris Bryant as a hybrid who would fill two needs: an upgrade at third base and right-handed bat for the outfield. Starling Marte, another right-handed bat available on the free-agent marketplace, is also available. Brandon Nimmo could be moved to the left field full-time if the Mets sign him.
Javier Baez, who was traded from the Cubs before the deadline, is now a free agent and could be a long-term solution for second base. The Mets have Jeff McNeil, 39-year-old Robinson Cano, who is returning from a suspension for PED use and owed $40 million by them) as potential options at the position.