Mets 2022 Winter Meetings to-do-list




Brandon Nimmo and Jacob deGrom
Brandon Nimmo and Jacob deGrom  

The MLB Winter Meetings take place in San Diego, Calif. from Dec. 4 to 7, and it is at those meetings where a pretty stagnant free agent market could start to move very fast.

For the Mets, it could mean getting clarity on the biggest question surrounding them this offseason -- the future of Jacob deGrom. And when they get an answer on that, it will color pretty much everything else they do.

Meanwhile, moves made by other teams could have a ripple effect that impacts the Mets.

For instance, if Aaron Judge leaves the Yankees, it could change the Bombers' entire offseason plan, potentially leading them to be more involved in bidding for players they might not otherwise try hard for if Judge returns -- such as deGrom.

Here's what should be on the Mets' to-do list during the meetings...

Try for a Jacob deGrom resolution

It might just be due diligence that the Mets -- aside from making deGrom a top priority -- have also spoken with Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon. But it sure seems like New York is looking to have two aces atop their rotation again in 2023. One of them will be Max Scherzer, and the other will seemingly come from the list above.

As far as deGrom, SNY's Andy Martino recently reported that it's hard to see any team offering more than the Mets will. And if that turns out to be the case, the Mets really should be pressing for a resolution before the end of the Winter Meetings.

That's because this could be a game of musical chairs between the three aces (deGrom, Verlander, Rodon), and more than three teams (the Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, and others).

Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander  

Perhaps deGrom returns to the Mets, Verlander goes to the Dodgers, and Rodon goes to the Rangers. But if the Houston Astros -- who have been focusing on adding offensive punch -- bring back Verlander, either the Mets, Dodgers, or Rangers will be left holding the bag.

If the Mets hang on to deGrom, their ace-level starting pitching search is almost certainly done. It's close to impossible to see them signing deGrom and one of Verlander or Rodon (or any combination of two of the three aces). However, they could sign one of those aces and also land Kodai Senga or bring back Chris Bassitt.

If deGrom leaves, or the Mets get a sense he's going to leave, they will have to quickly pounce on Verlander or perhaps Rodon if one or both are still available.

Of the two, I'm of the opinion that Verlander -- despite his age -- makes much more sense. But Rodon clearly has lots of upside.

Come up with Brandon Nimmo backup plans

Nimmo's market is robust.

That's not a surprise when you consider that he's the best free agent outfielder not named Judge, that he's been one of the most valuable offensive outfielders in baseball since 2018, and that he now has even more value because he recently turned himself into a plus defender in center field.

Nimmo has been one of the Mets' key cogs, and losing him would hurt immensely.

If Nimmo lands elsewhere (and he's expected to receive more than $20 million annually), the Mets could look to find some external offense at another spot on the diamond. But in doing so, they'll also have to figure out who plays center field.

Starling Marte and Brandon Nimmo
Starling Marte and Brandon Nimmo  

And in a world without Nimmo, the Mets would likely have two choices as far as center goes.

The first would be to slide Starling Marte from right field back to center, which might not be the best idea since Marte is entering his age-34 season and hasn't played regularly in center since 2021.

The other would be to find a new center fielder via free agency or trade. But a look at the free agent options leaves a lot to be desired.

The Mets could add a defense-first guy like Kevin Kiermaier or take a flier on AJ Pollock, who had a down 2022 offensively after performing very well from 2017 to 2021. But Pollock has been pretty bad defensively in center over the last few seasons.

That means if the Mets lose Nimmo, it really might make sense to explore the recently DFA'd Cody Bellinger, who will at the very least play an above-average (and possibly elite) center field and has huge upside with the bat. And it will probably only take a one-year deal to sign him.

Another option would be a reunion with Michael Conforto, who could play right field with Marte in center.

See if Shohei Ohtani really is unavailable

I'll believe the Los Angeles Angels aren't trading Ohtani this offseason when he either signs an extension with them or the offseason ends.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani  

Angels GM Perry Minasian recently said that Ohtani isn't available, and maybe he really isn't.

But it's hard to see why Ohtani -- who is set to hit free agency after the 2023 season -- would sign an extension with an Angels team that is kind of in disarray.

And if Ohtani doesn't extend with the Angels this offseason, why would he do so during the season?

In the event the Angels can't ink Ohtani, they'll have the choice of trading him and getting an enormous haul back (it will be bigger this offseason than it will be during the season) or losing him for nothing but draft pick compensation.

And the Mets, with an emerging farm system and some of the very best prospects in all of baseball, probably have the pieces it would take to land Ohtani -- and I think they can do it without parting with Francisco Alvarez.

The Mets landing Ohtani would likely be out the window if they re-sign deGrom. But if deGrom leaves (and especially if deGrom leaves and the Mets don't sign a replacement ace), trying to swing a deal for Ohtani -- with the plan being to extend him soon after -- would make all the sense in the world.

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