With the winter meetings about to begin, know this: The Mets’ flurry of activity in recent days is just the start.
President of baseball operations David Stearns and his evolving inner circle of executives are heading — along with much of the rest of the baseball world — to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. From Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon, they’ll discuss free agents with their representatives, mull possible trades with other clubs and, yes, attend actual meetings at the winter meetings, baseball’s annual offseason get-together.
Two months after Stearns started with the team, the Mets’ biggest moves are yet to come . . . by default.
Of their recent additions, righthander Luis Severino and his one-year, $13 million contract is the most significant. Joey Wendle is the new backup infielder, Austin Adams is a potential bullpen piece and Cooper Hummel and Tyler Heineman are bench/depth options, but they all are near the bottom of the roster.
Bringing aboard those five players left the Mets with seven open spots on their 40-man roster. That they recently had 12 — a huge number, even at the start of the offseason — was a sign of how much work they had to do.
Almost all of the big holes remain. Still on the Mets’ list of needs: at least one starting pitcher (if not two), at least one hitter and multiple relievers. And those are just the obvious ones, not factoring in any wild-card moves that Stearns, ever creative during his run with the Brewers, might have cooking.
Free-agent hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani and Padres outfielder Juan Soto, who is the subject of trade talks, are the biggest names available. But those look more like objects of industry fascination generally as opposed to Mets storylines specifically.
Even in the context of Stearns and owner Steve Cohen’s signaling that the Mets won’t spend big the way they have in past offseasons, there are major prizes to land — and exceptions to be considered. Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto probably is the biggest.
Though Cohen said during the summer that next year’s Mets “won’t be as star-studded a team,” Yamamoto is a logical fit, anyway, because he is only 25 years old. Elite pitchers are almost never available at such a young age.
Don’t forget: Stearns defined the Mets being “competitive” in 2024 as being “a true playoff contender.” A top-flight starting pitcher would go a long way toward making such a dramatic turnaround a reality.
“We are going to do our best to put together a team in 2024 that is competitive, and we’re going to do it in a way that does not detract from our competitiveness in future years,” he said in October. “That’s a needle to thread, but that’s our goal and that should be our goal.”
In addition to potential transactions, these upcoming Mets-related goings-on are worth monitoring:
Hall of Fame election: Davey Johnson, manager of the 1986 Mets, the franchise’s most recent World Series champion, again is up for election to the Hall of Fame. He is one of eight candidates to be considered by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee on Sunday; results will be announced at 7:30 p.m. on MLB Network.
MLB Draft lottery: This will determine where in the first round the Mets will pick during the draft in July. Seventeen teams are eligible to land a so-called lottery pick, one of the first six.
The Mets have a 4.3% chance of getting the No. 1 overall selection, which would be a bona fide coup. Really, the important part for the Mets is to get within the top six. If they end up at seventh or later, they get knocked back 10 spots because of how much money they spent in 2023.
Lottery results will be announced at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Rule 5 draft: During this event, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, teams can pluck minor-leaguers from other organizations and add them to their 40-man roster for a nominal fee.
Given the state of the Mets’ roster, with lots of openings and uncertainty in the bullpen in particular, there’s a decent chance they will take a flier on somebody (as they did last year with a reliever they wound up sending back to the Yankees).