The Mets should be looking to improve their bullpen, as well as add an everyday catcher, at least one impact hitter and depth beneath the entire roster.
Here are the latest headlines and rumblings from each of the above markets, followed by my take on how things currently stand and may shake out...
The everyday catcher
The Mets have so far been reluctant to pursue free-agent C Wilson Ramos because of concerns about his defense and previous injuries, according to the NY Post's Mike Puma.
The Mets have not gotten far in talks with free-agent C Martin Maldonado, who they've reportedly been interested in since the start of the off season, writes Puma.
MY TAKE >> I still expect the Mets to end up signing a defense-first catcher, who is terrific at framing pitches. But, that's predicated on them adding offensive upgrades at other positions in the field. I've heard Mickey Callaway say in offseason interviews that his pitching staff deserves to have better hands behind the plate. And it certainly sounded like Brodie Van Wagenen felt the same based on his comments during his introductory press conference. That said, if the Mets could somehow acquire prospects that could be spun into a deal for Marlins C J.T. Realmuto, I'm sure they'd all be just fine with that outcome as well...
Speaking of which, the Mets, Astros, Yankees, Dodgers and Giants are among the teams being relentless in their push to trade for Realmuto, says Fancred.com's Jon Heyman. According to previous reports, due to demand, the Marlins are asking for an overwhelming amount of talent in a deal for Realmuto, who reportedly is also seeking a contract extension in the range of the Buster Posey's nine-year, $170 million deal with the Giants.
Tampa Bay Times reporter Marc Topkin believes the Rays could be among teams interested in trading for Noah Syndergaard, who the Mets are open to dealing.
According to Topkin, the Rays have a bounty of young, major-league ready talent and are eager to acquire impact players under contract that help them win sooner than later.
The Mets have interest in acquiring Indians ace Corey Kluber, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, who says the two teams have discussed a trade.
MY TAKE >> Callaway loves Kluber, we all know that. The thing is, I've been told by a Cleveland source that the Mets have to put Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto on the table before considering any potential deal. ... Also, much like I think the Mets are using Syndergaard as a way to open doors with teams about other trades, I don't doubt Cleveland my be doing the same with Kluber, while instead preferring to deal Bauer.
There are at least 10 teams interested in free-agent J.A. Happ, according to Heyman.
MY TAKE >> Much like with free-agent Nathan Eovaldi, I'm sure Happ is viewed by a lot of teams as a backup in case they miss out on the top line group of starting pitchers. Happ and Eovaldi are both likely on track to be offered two- to three-year deals in the $10-15 million per season range.
Everyday center fielder
The Reds non-tendered, speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton, who is now a free agent.
Free-agent center fielder A.J. Pollock is seeking at least a five-year, $80 million contract, Bob Nightingale of USA Today reported this past weekend.
MY TAKE >> I don't see Pollock getting this level contract because he has yet to show he can remain healthy on a consistent basis. I also think this may be a major reason, in addition to the money, that the Mets would be hesitant about acquiring him. MLB insiders all seem to think he's worth no more than a three-year deal, paying him around $15 million each season.
Adding another relief pitcher
It could take a three-year deal to lock up free-agent reliever David Robertson, a source told George A. King III of the NY Post.
MY TAKE >> Robertson has always told people he prefers to pitch in the northeast, specifically with the Red Sox or Yankees. The Red Sox reportedly only see him as being worth a short-term deal -- two years at most. The Yankees have so far had very little contact with him. Therefore, I'd assume the Mets would be on his list as well. He'd actually be a perfect complement to Edwin Diaz, who the Mets just acquired from the Mariners. Robertson is experienced, he knows New York inside and out, he's pitched in all sorts of pressure, playoff spots and his stuff and career have always been underrated. I can see him as a terrific fallback if Diaz stumbles, not to mention the tutelage he can provide for him throughout the season.
Adding another impact bat
League executives have repeatedly told the New York Post's Joel Sherman that they believe free-agent Bryce Harper will eventually re-sign with the Nationals, while Manny Machado will sign with the Phillies.
MY TAKE >> I have no sourcing on this, it's just a hunch when looking at what has happened so far, but (if you squint) you can see Brodie Van Wagenen currently making moves that open a path to him signing Harper. Think about it. By cutting Wilmer Flores and by swapping Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak for Robinson Cano, who likely asked to defer some his salary for tax reasons (they don't have state income tax in Washington), the team's projected payroll seemingly sits around $130 million.
If Van Wagenen trades Zack Wheeler instead of Syndergaard for prospects making no money, then trades Nimmo for Bauer and signs Maldonado for $5-6 million each season, the team's payroll will only be around $140 million. Signing a high-end free agent reliever could take the payroll to around $150 million. So, to give Harper a deal in which the bulk of the money doesn't kick in until after 2020, when the Mets say goodbye to Yoenis Cespedes, it could all fit into a budget similar to what they operated with the past few seasons. Again, I have no idea if this is what Van Wagenen is trying to do, but it certainly feels feasible if he wants to go down that road...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!