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The GM search is finally over, but the work is only just beginning
The Mets finally have a general manager in Billy Eppler. Plus, a look into the search into a new manager and what's next for the club in a busy offseason.
What’s Up with the Mets? 💭
The Mets long search for a general manager finally comes to an end, with the team hiring former Yankees and Angels exec Billy Eppler (Heyman)
Eppler will have control of baseball operations and final say on decisions (SNY)
Former Tigers and Angels manager Brad Ausmus could be a possible candidate for the Mets’ managerial opening (Heyman)
A managerial hire is not imminent, but Eppler has a list of candidates and the Mets will engage in a full search and interview process (SNY)
Former Mets manager Luis Rojas was officially named as Yankees third base coach
It may take a four-year deal for the Mets, or any team, to land free agent CF Starling Marte (NY Post)
The Mets finally have a front office, and now the work can really begin 📝
After what seemed like an eternity of searching through a litany of different names, months of varying reports and rumors and plenty of hot takes, the New York Mets finally have themselves a general manager.
Late on Monday, it was reported that New York was finalizing a deal with Billy Eppler, the former Yankees executive and Angels general manager, to run baseball operations for the club. Love it, hate it or indifferent to it, the hiring of Eppler at minimum provides the Mets with an experienced baseball executive that has operated in a GM role in the past, is analytically driven and will allow Sandy Alderson to take a back seat when it comes to decision-making on the baseball end.
And while it certainly seems like this front office search has dominated the team’s offseason, the work is only now just beginning.
Once this hire becomes official, the Mets can then turn their attention to multiple, incredibly important areas of focus. First off, they’ll need a new manager and coaching staff. The club has a bit of an advantage here because outside of the A’s — who will likely hire from within — they are the only team currently looking for a manager. This allows the team to take their time running their search and they can do so parallel to their work on player personnel.
As of this moment, the Mets have six notable players from the 2021 club that are free agents and it could reach seven if Noah Syndergaard rejects his qualifying offer. Coming off a disappointing season where several players underperformed and a roster shake-up is likely needed, the team is already facing a potential problem with respect to the luxury tax (they are on the hook for around $130 million for just seven players currently under contract) before even making a single move this offseason.
The Mets are assured to blow past that tax this winter, as a coy Sandy Alderson claimed that the team had “lots” of payroll flexibility last week at the GM Meetings, so the question comes down to how much flexibility will owner Steve Cohen provide the new front office and how do they plan on allocating it?
For whatever reason, it already seems as if re-signing Michael Conforto isn’t in the cards (which should never be the case for a big market team with money to spend, but that’s neither here nor there) so that leaves a pretty large opening in the team’s outfield. They’ll also need to fill at least one rotation spot, either by re-signing Marcus Stroman to a fairly lucrative deal or by bringing in another arm via free agency or trade, and potentially aim higher for insurance against the uncertainty with Jacob deGrom. If Syndergaard rejects the qualifying offer, that will leave the Mets to fill two slots in their rotation. And of course their best reliever, Aaron Loup, is also a free agent and will either need to be retained or replaced.
Then there’s the rest of the offense. The Mets struggled mightily to get production out of Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smith, either of whom could potentially be involved in trade talks this winter. They also had to deal with JD Davis spending large chunks of the season on the injured list, and while he put up solid overall numbers in a small sample (.820 OPS, 126 OPS+ in 73 games), Davis had trouble driving runners home and really struggled with the fastball, whiffing 37.3% of the time this past season — far and away the highest rate of his career.
When you put it all together, the Mets will have to at minimum acquire or retain at least one starting pitcher, multiple relievers, a right fielder, another outfielder (left or center), probably a third baseman and potentially even a second baseman. It will now be on Eppler and company to figure out the best course of action to maneuver throughout this offseason, finding out where to allocate their resources and what players from a 2021 team that disappointed deserve to be re-signed, retained or traded away.
For the Mets, there is still much work to do. They may have finally found a GM, but this offseason has only just begun.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Red Sox, Blue Jays and Angels — three of the teams to lose out in the Eduardo Rodríguez sweepstakes — will now be in on other free agent starting pitchers (Morosi)
Dodgers INF/OF Chris Taylor will reject his qualifying offer, making him a free agent (Heyman)
Astros SS Carlos Correa will reject his qualifying offer, making him a free agent (Heyman)
The Braves signed C Manny Piña two a two-year, $8 million contract
There is “a lot of chatter” surrounding a potential trade for Brewers LHP Josh Hader but it would likely take a significant return (Fansided)
The Phillies, Nationals and Red Sox may be the most aggressive suitors for DH/OF Kyle Schwarber (Audacy)
The Tigers are interested in a contract extension with recently acquired C Tucker Barnhart (Fansided)
Former major league INF Julio Lugo passed away at age 45
Reds 2B Jonathan India and Rays OF Randy Arozarena were announced as the Rookie of the Year award winners
Prospect Watch ⚾
Yesterday’s stats in the Arizona Fall & Dominican Winter Leagues
Carlos Cortes (2B/OF, No. 10 prospect): 1-for-4, RBI, R
Brian Metoyer (RHP, unranked): 2 IP, H, ER, BB, 2 K
Colin Holderman (RHP, unranked): IP, H, 2 ER, BB, K