Met for the winter « fire drill » with the number of free agents

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The Mets will have an interesting winter, with Brandon Nimmo, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino and Seth Lugo all free agents or potential free agents (deGrom and Walker opted-out, Carrasco has a stick trigger). As a higher-ranking Mets put it, « It should be a fire drill. »

DeGrom seems determined to step down, and while he’s upset about his contract, the Mets also might not be so eager to pay huge sums after missing a calendar year. Assuming he makes at least a few starts and finishes well enough, however, there’s no reason to think there won’t be a strong outside market for him. If deGrom leaves, $30.5 million will be freed up, but with so many free agents, it’s time for those Mets fans to be grateful to owner Steve Cohen.

Walker will exercise his own opt-out, and unsurprisingly, the Mets are interested in bringing the vastly improved starter back. Bassitt is just a free agent who should be of interest to them as well, even though they haven’t lend a hand yet. Diaz has been as good as anyone close in the game, including Josh Hader. Nimmo has the second highest WAR among NL outfielders; they would also like him to return.

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom watches from the dugout during the eighth inning at Citi Field on June 14, 2022.
Jacob deGrom has not pitched in a league game since July 7, 2021.
Jason Szenes/New York Post

The free agent pitching market will be much stronger than the commercial market, with Carlos Rodon (who will retire assuming continued health), Sean Manaea and Jameson Taillon are all free agents as well. Justin Verlander will earn a $25 million player option if he reaches 130 innings, an almost inevitable conclusion, and a market pundit predicts he will also retire. With Max Scherzer on the books at $43.3 million, Verlander could be trying to get that much. Just a guess, but it’s not hard to imagine Cohen playing for Verlander.

Xander Bogaerts will surely retire, and Carlos Correa also looks likely to retire.

Mets president Sandy Alderson made it clear on « The Show » that a designated hitter and help from the bullpen are top priorities in the trades. Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz, Trey Mancini and perhaps Willson Contreras could all fill that need, as could David Peralta and Mitch Haniger (the Mariners probably aren’t salesmen, but they can move it). Although Cruz is loved, he looks lower on the Mets roster based on 2022 performances. Alderson suggested the Mets aren’t eager to give up one of their top five prospects — naming Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Matt Allan.

The Mets are investigating Contreras, a top receiver, though he might be considered more of a DH for them.

The Mets also have Andrew Benintendi on their radar, as his unvaccinated status hasn’t had as much of an impact since Toronto has been in the AL.

The Padres and Brewers also prioritize a hitter, although, as Alderson pointed out on “The Show,” that’s a better buyer’s market to hit than to pitch.

Keith Hernandez should be in the Hall of Fame. The same goes for Don Mattingly.

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