Mets GM Billy Eppler speaks at a press conference introducing...

Mets GM Billy Eppler speaks at a press conference introducing pitcher Kodai Senga at Citi Field, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, in Queens. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Steve Cohen might have thought the Mets needed “one more hitter” when they pursued Carlos Correa last month - before negotiations went south after his physical yielded the same concerns over a prior ankle surgery that squashed Correa's deal with the Giants. But general manager Billy Eppler said Tuesday that, although he’ll continue to explore options, he’s content with the team’s current lineup.

“I think we have a strong and deep lineup,” said Eppler in a video conference introducing Adam Ottavino and catcher Omar Narvaez, both of whom officially signed last month. “I’m confident in our group’s ability to score runs…[but] you can always be better. That’s kind of the purpose of making sure that you’re not sitting in a fixed mindset, and you adopt more of a growth-based mindset where you can always improve. That’s what we’re going to look to do. You have to look for opportunities out there.”

Eppler, in his first meeting with reporters since the Correa deal fell through, declined to comment on the 21-day saga that ended with the shortstop returning to the Twins, and cited “privacy reasons as well as out of respect to Carlos.” The Mets’ only official statement on the matter was a 13-word news release.

The general manager also declined to comment on whether the team is engaged in talks with Pete Alonso or Jeff McNeil – both candidates for contract extensions. Alonso avoided arbitration last week by signing to a one-year, $14.5 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2025. McNeil, the National League batting champion, will go to arbitration (he’s also set to be a free agent in two years).

“I always want to keep those internal,” Eppler said of any contract talks. “I’m not a big believer in talking in those types of things or anybody’s employment or contract status…I don’t like doing that publicly.”

Eppler added that, while the Mets largely have the same lineup that they fielded last season, this year’s ban on the shift, along with the team’s contact-heavy approach, puts them in a strong position. The Mets, whose spurts of offensive malaise ended up biting them at the end of the season and throughout their three-game wild card series with the Padres, were nonetheless fifth in baseball in runs and sixth in OPS. They were also third in wRC+, or weighted runs created plus – a strong metric for identifying offensive heft. They were 15th in home runs.

That said, Eppler said he was “still engaged in the market” for a potential leftfielder and more bullpen help. The market, though, is fairly dry, and the franchise has been hesitant to part with its prospects, meaning that options are limited.

“Whether anything actually comes to fruition and we’re doing another one of these [introductory news conferences] remains to be seen,” Eppler said. “Definitely still having the conversations.”

There’s hope, too, that third baseman Brett Baty and catcher Francisco Alvarez could contribute, with Narvaez indicating Tuesday that he’ll take the mentorship role seriously when it comes to Alvarez, a power bat with some defensive gaps in his game. Eppler would not say if Baty has the chance to take the starting third base gig from Eduardo Escobar, adding that he still has to have those conversations with manager Buck Showalter.

“If I can help Alvarez grow and be part of this team also, I’m going to do it,” said Narvaez, a left-handed hitter who will likely form some sort of platoon with Tomas Nido as Alvarez gets acclimated to the big leagues. “I’m just looking forward to meeting him and sharing a little information and giving him everything I’ve got – experience and help him…I’m probably going to be at camp earlier to give me more of a chance to meet everybody and get as much information as I can.”

Narvaez, who had a down offensive year last season but is nonetheless considered a defensively sound catcher and an excellent communicator, said he plans to get to spring training early to get used to the new staff. Ottavino, too, has been preparing for changes: With MLB introducing a pitching clock, he’s been working with one at home and, he said, has mostly adjusted.

After a tough 2021, Ottavino, 37, had sort of a renaissance with the Mets last season, pitching to a 2.06 ERA over 66 appearances, many in high-leverage situations. His walk rate went from 13% in 2021 to 6% in 2022, and his strikeout rate ticked up, with a 30.6 K% — five percentage points better than the previous season. He credits the shift with getting back to his fundamentals.

“I just felt like one year wasn’t really going to be – it was going to be a bummer to leave,” said Ottavino, a Brooklyn native. “I wanted to come back and see what we can do this year.”

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