As the Mets open spring training, president of baseball operations David Stearns said Monday he does not expect to discuss a long-term deal with Pete Alonso during the upcoming season. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — With a whirlwind first four months on the job complete, David Stearns’ approach to Mets spring training is simple: Watch and learn .  .  . and learn and learn.

As their new president of baseball operations — a fancier title for what historically is a general manager — he orchestrated an offseason during which the Mets plugged roster holes with short-term solutions such as Luis Severino, Harrison Bader and Jake Diekman. Their largest financial outlay went to Sean Manaea, who will get $28 million over two years.

Now, as players, staff and others congregate at their Clover Park complex every day for the next six weeks, Stearns is moving into a new and important phase of his acclimation. He said he needs “a full baseball cycle” to feel fully comfortable and knowledgeable about the Mets. This will be a huge part of that.

“This is the only time over the course of the calendar year where you’ve got the vast majority of people throughout the organization in one place,” Stearns said at his camp-opening news conference Monday. “I’ll get to meet a whole lot of people face-to-face. I’m going to get to see not only our major-league players but our minor-league players in person. It’s that global familiarity that I’m really looking forward to, especially this first year. It’s going to be really important for me.”

Here are other highlights and takeaways from Stearns’ media session on the Mets’ report date for pitchers and catchers.

Baty’s job to lose?

Stearns said the Mets will have “some level of competition” at third base but noted that “we believe in Brett [Baty] there.” He also mentioned Mark Vientos, who is a primary DH candidate, as well as utility infielder Joey Wendle and depth option Zack Short.

Baty, 24, struggled as the starter there last year, posting a .212/.275/.323 slash line.

Building the pen

Among the few other roster battles at the outset are approximately two spots in the bullpen. Stearns said he doesn’t think too much about that stuff early in spring training.

“I don’t really start to drill down on that until we get to the second week of March and we see who is still healthy, who’s on track to play on Opening Day,” he said. “Because sometimes it looks a little bit different when we get to that time frame than it might today.”

Manager Carlos Mendoza said last week: “Competition brings the best out of people.”

Alonso watch

In more concrete terms than used previously, Stearns acknowledged that he does not anticipate serious contract negotiations with Pete Alonso ahead of his pending free agency after this season.


“That’s probably the most likely outcome,” Stearns said. “We’re not going to get into the specifics of any particular negotiation, not going to provide you guys updates on any conversations that exist back and forth. But when you have a really talented player who’s entering his final year of club control, who happens to be represented by Scott Boras, these things generally end up in free agency. And we understand that.”

“This is an organization that’s dealt with that before with really good players. And it’s ended up in a perfectly fine spot. I have not seen Pete here yet. I haven’t talked to him here yet. But what we’re going to talk about is, like. let’s go out and have a great year together. You go out, have a great year. Let’s have a great year as a team. And if we do that we’re both going to be set up — the organization and Pete — very well going into the offseason.”

Don’t bank on another bat

Having refrained from making legitimate upgrades to their lineup — and with DH in particular a fillable hole — the Mets are comfortable with the status quo. They have stayed away from adding a veteran hitter such as J.D. Martinez or Jorge Soler because they want their unproven in-house youngsters to play, a philosophy Stearns employs generally, not just when he is new.

“First, where we are in our organizational cycle, regardless of whether this is my first year or 10th year, it’s important for us to learn about some of these younger players,” he said. “When you have players that have pretty consistently performed at the Triple-A level, at some point, you have to be willing to give them opportunities at the major-league level, understanding it may not go perfectly .  .  . I think we will be better off as an organization for it, but I understand the risks involved.”

Stearns added that there is “always temptation” to make additions and did not rule out another signing, particularly if prices for remaining free agents drop

Optimism around Marte

During a recent trip to the Dominican Republic, Stearns and other Mets officials went out of their way to watch Starling Marte, who was playing in the Dominican Winter League. The 35-year-old outfielder, who missed much of last season because of groin problems.

“The most encouraging thing there is he’s healthy,” he said. “It was clear watching him play he was healthy. The game I was at, he had to handle a number of balls down the rightfield line and he got there easily and looked like Starling Marte in the outfield. That was very encouraging.”

Senga, Year 2

Asked if the Mets will continue to carefully massage Kodai Senga’s schedule to be more like the one he had in Japan or if they will push him toward a once-every-five-days routine, Stearns said, “It’s probably both.”

The Mets plan to mix in a sixth starter when merited, according to Stearns. That was their approach last year as well. They are scheduled to play 13 consecutive days starting in early April.

“It is wise for us,” Stearns said, “to be somewhat cautious.”

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