With new owner Steve Cohen’s financial might behind him and a seemingly shallow prospect pool in the farm system, Mets president Sandy Alderson says the organization will be focused on improving through the free-agent market rather than the trade market this winter.
"We’re going to . . . recommit to our farm system and try to stay away from [moving] our really good prospects in significant trades,’’ Alderson told former general managers Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on Sunday on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio.
"There are only two currencies in baseball: players and money. And right now, especially the upper levels of our [farm] system, we don’t have the players. We have some money at this point. And so, you know, we’re going to sort of balance those two things . . . We expect to be somewhat active in the free-agent market as opposed to the trade market. We don’t want to give up our young guys.’’
Alderson said the free-agent market has been "moving slowly’’ but noted that Atlanta has moved quickly in signing pitchers Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly. The Mets, he said, will be proactive.
"We’re certainly not being cautious about it,’’ he said. "We’re in active conversations with a variety of people. So we’re not waiting for the market to develop at this point, we’re trying to be a little more aggressive.’’
Various reports and speculation have linked the Mets to free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, pitcher Trevor Bauer and outfielder George Springer, among others. Alderson was asked if he thinks he might be able to land at least two free agents of that caliber.
"Well, we’ll see,’’ he said. "We’ve got a number of holes to fill. We’ve got some depth that we need to create. So I think there are a lot of ways that we can approach this. But we’re hopeful that we will be active players [in free agency].’’
Alderson added that "it takes two to engage’’ and said "some segments of the market are going to move more quickly.’’
He said the Mets are not waiting to see which additional players will become free agents because they are not tendered a contract by Wednesday’s deadline.
"We’re not waiting for the best buy,’’ he said. "We’re not waiting for what happens on December 2. We’re going to be interested in what happens, but we haven’t been waiting for that.’’
Alderson was asked what rule changes in effect for the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season he liked and would like to see become permanent moving forward. As he has done in the past, he advocated for the National League to use the designated hitter, as it did in 2020.
"I just think that the time for, you know, pitchers hitting has passed by,’’ he said. "And I think that the game needs more action. I think putting a .280 hitter in to replace a .130 hitter is a good thing. And I think that having the same rules in both leagues probably makes a lot more sense now than it ever did, simply because of interleague play.’’
He said he dislikes seven-inning doubleheaders but likes starting extra innings with a runner on second base because it opens the possibility of different strategies.