General manager Brodie Van Wagenen and his front office departed the winter meetings Thursday without a new starting catcher — they remain in pursuit of the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto — but with a new setup man, bringing Jeurys Familia back to Queens on a three-year, $30-million deal, pending a physical.
All of the other information Van Wagenen gleaned this week will guide the rest of the Mets’ offseason, this weekend and beyond.
“I’m not trying to force timelines,” Van Wagenen said. “I’m trying to force the best roster we can create.”
Despite lots of talks and nearly as many rumors, the Mets, hesitant to meet the Marlins’ high asking price, have been unable to land Realmuto. The Mets have gone as far as to dangle Noah Syndergaard in a potential three-way deal with the Padres and Marlins, according to multiple reports, but that option didn’t appear serious as team execs left the Mandalay Bay.
Syndergaard also was mentioned in three-way talks involving the Yankees, but that didn’t get very far. Van Wagenen has said the Mets would need to be overwhelmed with an offer to give up Syndergaard.
The Mets’ one-on-one talks with the Marlins, who have other suitors for Realmuto, have centered around Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo over Amed Rosario, a source said. One of those players — not multiple — would be the headliner.
Among prospects Miami has been keen on: shortstops Andres Gimenez and Ronny Mauricio and third baseman Mark Vientos.
With upgrades at catcher — and outfield — to be decided, or figured out, Van Wagenen at least finished solving the back end of the bullpen issue in the form of Familia, the former Mets closer traded to the A’s in July.
Familia will pair with closer Edwin Diaz to create a formidable late-innings answer. Van Wagenen suggested the Mets won’t pursue any of the many other high-end free-agent relievers.
“Would we play on multiple high-end arms in the bullpen?” Van Wagenen said. “I don’t think that’s part of our strategy at this point.”
Lower-tier additions, particularly lefthanders, are still possible and even likely. Familia and Diaz join Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman as the only locks for relief jobs.
Although he couldn’t discuss Familia in depth because the contract isn’t finalized, Van Wagenen said Familia’s age (29), track record (career 2.73 ERA) and familiarity (after more than a decade in the organization) made him a good fit.
“Once we got Diaz in the fold, we thought that if we could keep pushing forward and be aggressive on some of the top guys in the market, the bullpen would be a huge win,” Van Wagenen said. “Obviously, we still have some work to do to try to push across the finish line, but the familiarity with a player that’s been in New York was attractive. We know the makeup, and if we can get it done, we’d be excited.
“The addition of a veteran bullpen arm in our hopes will only help the development, adjustment and assimilation for Edwin Diaz in the New York market as well.”
With that item crossed off, the Mets can focus on other areas of need, including the outfield. Among those the Mets have considered are free agents A.J. Pollock and Adam Jones.
“Coming out of this week, I think we have a pretty good understanding of what the acquisition cost [is] for all the players, both in trades and free agency,” Van Wagenen said. “Whether those acquisition costs match up to what we’re willing to do and how we’re putting this chessboard together, time will tell.”
Notes & quotes: The Mets snagged righthander Kyle Dowdy in the Rule 5 draft. Last season, splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A in the Tigers’ and Indians’ systems, Dowdy had a 5.15 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 30 games (20 starts). Van Wagenen said Dowdy has “tremendous upside” and added that the Mets like his 98-mph fastball, breaking ball and increased spin rate in 2018. Dowdy, 26 in February, is an option as a starter or reliever, Van Wagenen said.
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