After blowing up the team with the highest payroll in MLB history at last season’s trade deadline, the New York Mets aim to acquire talent who can help them enjoy sustained success. New president of baseball operations David Stearns has already started adding depth, but he’ll need to make a significant splash to get the Mets back to the postseason.
Here’s one trade and one signing the Mets should make this winter.
Trade: Acquire Rays center fielder Manuel Margot
During an interview at last week’s winter meetings, Stearns told reporters that New York intends to add a starting-caliber outfielder and didn’t rule out the possibility of trading for one. Margot, who wrapped up an injury-plagued 2023 season hitting .333 with one home run and eight RBI in September, is available and has been the subject of trade talks this offseason. Last month, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that the Mets were among the teams to discuss a potential Margot deal with Tampa Bay.
While the Dominican isn’t known for being a feared hitter, he has made a lasting impression on the Mets in their few meetings. In 24 games against New York, Margot has compiled an unbelievable slash line of .357/.382/.583 with 30 hits, three homers and 14 RBI. Margot, however, has been a subpar hitter against everyone else, as evidenced by his 90 career wRC+ (MLB average is 100).
Even so, it’s worth noting that Steamer anticipates Margot having one of the most productive offensive seasons of his career in 2024, projecting he’ll slash .265/.322/.395 with a 102 wRC+. For $10 million in 2024 and a $12 million mutual option for 2025, that type of output from Margot would prove valuable for the Mets as they await several prospects capable of playing the outfield to debut.
Signing: Ink RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto
In the wake of Shohei Ohtani’s unprecedented 10-year, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Yamamoto has become the biggest domino left to fall this winter and is unquestionably the Mets’ top free-agent target. New York hasn’t hesitated in making the 25-year-old a priority, as Stearns and owner Steve Cohen flew to Japan ahead of the winter meetings to speak with Yamamoto and his family.
According to Andy Martino of SNY, the meeting “seemed to have helped level the playing field” with the crosstown Yankees, though multiple teams remain in the mix for Yamamoto, whose price tag could reach $300 million. Despite being a steep price for someone without MLB experience, Yamamoto — the winner of each of the last three Pacific League MVP and Eiji Sawamura Awards — is well worth the cost. The one-time Japan Series champion finished his NPB career with a 70-29 record in 172 games, posting a 1.82 ERA and 0.93 WHIP while notching 922 strikeouts across 897 innings pitched.
The Mets believed they had one of the best rotations in baseball heading into last season, only to end up trading RHPs Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander as part of a flurry of deadline deals. Overall, New York issued the sixth-most walks in the majors last season (595) and posted the seventh-worst team ERA in the National League (4.30). The team needs an ace in its rotation, and it’s up to Cohen to deliver.
For all the hype Cohen has received as a modern-day George Steinbrenner, his free-agent moves have mostly consisted of overspending on aging assets. Winning one of the most intense bidding wars of the offseason against the new-look Yankees would be an ideal way for Cohen to show that his nearly $20 billion net worth isn’t going to waste.
Source: Yard Baker