SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Acquiring a top-notch starting pitcher apparently is not an absolute need for the Mets, in the view of president of baseball operations David Stearns, despite their rotation holes for 2024.
In an offseason with few elite pitchers available via free agency — and only one, 25-year-old Yoshinobu Yamamoto of Japan, who is in his 20s — Stearns said the Mets don’t necessarily need to add a No. 1-caliber starter.
The previous two years, then-general manager Billy Eppler felt strongly about taking a co-aces approach, first pairing Max Scherzer with Jacob deGrom, then adding Justin Verlander to work with Scherzer. It didn’t work out either time, but under him the Mets felt strongly about that being important to their World Series aspirations.
Stearns seems not to share that philosophy.
“You always love to bring in top-flight talent and top-flight pitching,” Stearns said. “Do I think we need one? No. You can compile pitching staffs in a variety of different ways. Certainly any time you have horses at the front of the rotation, it makes everything else a little bit easier. But it’s not impossible to do it without that.”
The Mets have just two names penciled into the rotation for next season: Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana. Senga, who had a 2.98 ERA in his rookie season, is the No. 1 option at the moment. Stearns said the Mets want to add “multiple” starters this offseason.
Among the Mets players with whom Stearns is most familiar at the start of his tenure: Daniel Vogelbach, a DH he acquired — and cut — with the Brewers.
The Mets are “still discussing” whether to tender Vogelbach a contract for 2024, Stearns said. The non-tender deadline is Nov. 17. Players under team control who are not promised a contract by then become free agents.
“I understand the skill set he brings,” Stearns said. “Clearly, I acquired him in my previous spot. And so I appreciate that. I also have to look at how it fits into the broader scope of our team here now, and we haven’t made any decisions there yet.”
Vogelbach doesn’t play defense, hit against lefthanders or run well.
What does Stearns like about Vogelbach?
“He gets on base and he controls the strike zone at a very elite level,” he said, keeping it brief.
Vogelbach wound up a league-average offensive producer last season, but when he struggled early — part of the Mets’ overall struggles — his presence on the roster became the subject of derision from fans. He barely played in September as the Mets prioritized at-bats for Mark Vientos and others.
Stearns on his talks with Scott Boras as the boss of the Mets, as opposed to the boss of the Brewers: “We may be talking about at times a slightly different segment of his clientele now that I’m with the Mets” . . . Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Senga are nominees for the All-MLB team, MLB announced. Those will be revealed Dec. 16 . . . Stearns’ media availability Thursday morning was canceled because he felt unwell, a Mets spokesman said. A stomach bug was making the rounds at the GM meetings all week, triggering significant gastrointestinal hardship among attendees from all 30 clubs and MLB.