LAS VEGAS — More than Bryce Harper, the 26-year-old star outfielder seeking a record-breaking contract, and more than Manny Machado, the 26-year-old star infielder looking for a similar deal, it is the Marlins and catcher J.T. Realmuto who have been dominating the winter meetings.
The Mets remained in pursuit of Miami’s backstop, arguably the best in the majors, as the winter meetings continued Tuesday, but general manager Brodie Van Wagenen stressed that the club is looking at all sorts of options to upgrade behind the plate (and at it).
That includes meeting with free agent Wilson Ramos, who is at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino to meet in person with teams, a step most players don’t take.
“A lot of people have described me as being aggressive, and I guess we are,” Van Wagenen said. “We’re busy, we’re active. But I also want to make sure we’re not reckless and irresponsible.
“Suffice it to say, we have met with players, we have talked to players on the phone, we have met with agents and we have continued to do that communication on all available catchers.”
Realmuto is the best of the bunch. Van Wagenen, continuing with his theme of getting creative, even discussed with the Yankees a three-team deal that would bring Realmuto to Queens and send Noah Syndergaard to the Bronx, sources said late Monday. There are no signs those talks have gotten or will get serious. As one Mets person put it: “That might be too creative.”
The Marlins’ asking price for Realmuto, who has two years of team control left, remains high. In a simpler trade for Realmuto, at least one of Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto would need to headline the package headed to Miami.
Van Wagenen, who has said he does not want to fill one hole on the roster at the cost of creating another, elaborated on that point Tuesday, seemingly leaving room to trade a noteworthy major-leaguer.
“Our flexibility and creativity is intended to create more wins on our field this year,” he said. “If we’re going to move any player of significance off our current roster, it’s going to put us in a position to win more games this year.”
Consider Mickey Callaway a fan of upgrading at catcher. Although he and Van Wagenen praised Kevin Plawecki, who is building arm strength while working out at home in Arizona, and Travis d’Arnaud, who is doing a post-Tommy John throwing program at the Mets’ Port St. Lucie facility, Callaway said, “After last season, we need to get better at the catcher position.”
“We're taking a lot of steps with the guys we have in our organization currently to improve,” Callaway said. “And I know that Brodie is out there looking at external options to help our team improve. But we definitely need to get better.”
Wilpon, deGrom's agents talk. Mets COO Jeff Wilpon had preliminary contract extension talks with Jacob deGrom’s representatives, Van Wagenen told SNY.
Notes & quotes: David Wright, who remains on the 40-man roster as the Mets negotiate a settlement with the insurance company, is at the winter meetings, joining the Mets’ group as a sounding board of sorts at the suggestion of Van Wagenen. “He’s an invaluable source for me, to give me a perspective that I never want to lose touch with, which is the player perspective,” Van Wagenen said … Callaway said he has Nimmo at leadoff and Robinson Cano batting third in his penciled-in lineup … Todd Frazier is the starting third baseman, Callaway said, but expect Jeff McNeil to get plenty of starts all over the field, including shortstop and leftfield … Who will be Peter Alonso’s competition for the first-base job in spring training? Callaway mentioned that Dominic Smith will be in camp, of course, and added, “I’m sure others will be. I'm glad that we're going to see the big boy out there having a chance to make the team.”