SAN DIEGO — At heart, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen remains a showman determined to create a buzz that goes beyond the Mets’ play on the field.
It is such mindset that pushed Van Wagenen to declare “come get us” after acquiring Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jeurys Familia and Wilson Ramos, among others, last offseason despite glaring question marks about his roster.
And that kind of thinking at the trade deadline meant getting Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays, giving the Mets a rotation upgrade for the final two months with an eye toward restocking the 2020 roster in the anticipated event Zack Wheeler departed.
So it would be surprising if the second-year GM doesn’t again swing for the fences, with the winter meetings set to officially begin Monday. There is no guarantee Van Wagenen will be successful in his pursuit, but industry insiders at least expect him to try.
“I think he’s trying to be aggressive,” said a person familiar with Van Wagenen’s broad offseason plan. “But I’m not so sure I see a splash in the cards with them.”
The Mets’ two offseason additions to this point addressed needs, but barely created a ripple, in the trade that acquired Jake Marisnick from Houston and the re-signing of veteran reliever Brad Brach.
Van Wagenen has been engaged with Rick Porcello, who could bring an experienced arm to the back of the rotation, but that kind of addition would hardly increase the team’s buzz level. The same goes for free-agent names such as Wade Miley and Ivan Nova.
On a larger scale, Corey Kluber was a pitcher the Mets showed interest in last offseason, and could again try to pry from the Indians. The former Cy Young Award winner started just seven games last season because of a broken left forearm and will earn $17.5 million in 2020. Could the Mets build a package around a player such as Dominic Smith or J.D. Davis — with perhaps Jed Lowrie’s contract included to lessen the payroll expenditure — to acquire the right-hander? Taking it a step further, could the Mets try for a blockbuster that would also include Francisco Lindor?
The All-Star shortstop is under club control for only another two seasons, but the Mets — due to expiring contracts after this season and the projected infusion of cash with billionaire Steve Cohen in negotiations to acquire controlling interest in the team — would likely be in position to lock him up long term before he gets to free agency. The Indians, according to reports, would be open to trading Kluber and Lindor at the winter meetings.
Another “splash” candidate, even as a long shot: Mookie Betts. The question there is whether the Mets are willing to surrender top talent for a player in his walk year who might be too close to free agency to deny himself the opportunity, even with Cohen’s dollars potentially involved.
Betts is arbitration-eligible and is coming off a season in which he earned $20 million, so that also could leave the Mets looking for the Red Sox to take on a contract to offset salary.
Lastly, there is Josh Hader, an elite reliever who would fit the “splash” category. The left-hander is under club control through 2023 and might require the Mets trading Davis and Smith, though it’s likely the Brewers would want Jeff McNeil included in any deal.
The Mets officially announced their coaching staff, naming Jeremy Hefner pitching coach, Chili Davis hitting coach, Hensley Meulens bench coach, Gary DiSarcina third-base coach, Tony DeFrancesco first-base coach, Luis Rojas quality-control coach, Ricky Bones bullpen coach and Tom Slater assistant hitting coach. In addition, the Mets elevated Jeremy Accardo from pitching strategist to assistant pitching coach.