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Sandy Alderson says Mets are 'more than a player away' as his role with club expands

This photo from a Zoom press conference shows

This photo from a Zoom press conference shows New York Mets President Sandy Alderson, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Alderson returned as team president Friday when Steve Cohen bought the Mets from the Wilpon and Katz families. (New York Mets via AP) Credit: AP

Steve Cohen’s financial might may make things easier on the Mets as they try to shape their roster for 2021, but according to team president Sandy Alderson, there is much work to do to be a contender next season.

"I don’t think we’re a player away,’’ Alderson told reporters on a Zoom call late Monday afternoon. "I think we’d need more than that. Do we have a good foundation? Yes, I think we have an excellent foundation. But I think that our needs are multiple at this point and that we’re more than a player away.’’

In terms of acquiring those players, it now appears as if Alderson will have to get more involved than he initially planned. He announced that instead of hiring a president of baseball operations, the Mets are focused on hiring a general manager. That means the job of overseeing all baseball operations — for now, at least — will be Alderson’s.

"I will continue my team president functions but will be more involved on the baseball side than originally anticipated,’’ he said.

Alderson said the search for a GM will not hold up anything on the player acquisition front. The team is primarily focused on improving its starting pitching, adding some help in the outfield and upgrading the catching, he said.

Perhaps the best free agent available this offseason is catcher J.T. Realmuto, who would fit the Mets’ needs perfectly. They reportedly also have had interest in Yadier Molina.

The club also has been linked to free-agent righthander Trevor Bauer and centerfielder George Springer, a native of New Britain, Connecticut, who has played the past seven seasons with Houston and now is seeking to get a little closer to home.

The stunning announcement by Major League Baseball last week that second baseman Robinson Cano will be suspended for the entire 2021 season because of a positive test for steroids will affect the Mets’ ability to tweak their roster, Alderson said.

Cano was scheduled to make $24 million, and Cohen has said on Twitter that he would like the Mets to use the money on more players. Alderson said the club may do just that.

"It does provide us some additional flexibility,’’ he said. "The flexibility comes not only financially, in our abilities, it also gives us some additional roster flexibility, as it turns out, in terms of the players that we have and where they’re best utilized. We have a number of holes to fill.’’

Alderson was asked what it has been like to work with Cohen, who has had so much fun interacting with fans on social media.

"I think what stands out the most is how he’s embraced his ownership and his relationship with the fans, predominantly through Twitter but other means as well,’’ Alderson said. "And I think that what he’s done is, through his own enthusiasm, I think he’s inspired the rest of us and created a level of energy and enthusiasm that sort of corresponds with his.’’

Alderson also worked for the previous owner, Fred Wilpon, before stepping away because of health issues. He compared Cohen’s ascent to when he went through an ownership change in Oakland.

"That wasn’t exactly a social media-drenched environment at that time, 1981,’’ he said. "So to me, it’s really refreshing, it’s energizing, it’s fun.’’

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