Mets Prioritizing Offense Over Pitching

The Mets are in the market for offense this winter, so much so that they may not even spend much time considering the free agent market for pitchers. Asked whether the team's preference was to target upside or a stable veteran presence to eat some innings and mentor the Mets' young arms, special assistant J.P. Ricciardi told MLBTR:

“I think the one thing in our favor right now is our pitching in our organization is getting closer to being big-league ready, so that makes us say that we might have some in-house options. So maybe we wouldn't even be as inclined to go out and look at that market. It's kind of a work in progress to see what is available, but I think one of the securities we have is that at least we have some guys coming through the system that can get to the big leagues a little quicker. I don't know if we'd be as willing to jump on something like that right now.”

Instead, it appears that the Mets will focus their efforts on improving the team's offense. “We have a lot of holes in our lineup,” Ricciardi acknowledged, declining to target a specific area of focus. Ricciardi stated that the Mets are committed to Travis d'Arnaud at catcher though he was less committal when discussing Juan Lagares in center field: “I'd say right now, he's probably the guy that we'd say: 'He can play center field.' I think a lot depends on what we're able to bring around him.”

In terms of outfielders, the market is rife with power bats that could improve the Mets' lineup. Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson and Nelson Cruz could all provide a boost to the club's outfield group, though each would require a draft pick to sign. The Mets are open to forfeiting their second-round pick for “the right player,” though as Ricciardi put it, the team isn't “jumping up and down to give up any picks because we're still trying to build.” Should the Mets surrender a pick, one will likely be their limit. Ricciardi dismissed the possibility of the Mets being as aggressive as the Indians were last season in forfeiting a second-round pick in order to sign both Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher:

“I don't know if we'll be that involved with those type of guys. Like I said, it has to be the right guy for us to even do one, so I can't really sit here and tell you that we're probably thinking about doing two.”

I asked Ricciardi specifically about the organization's top pitching prospect, Noah Syndergaard, and his chances to make the Majors next season despite being just 20 years old: “I don't know. I think a lot's going to depend on how he handles Triple-A. I think we'll use that as a barometer. I don't think – and I can't speak for Sandy – but I don't think we're going to let anyone's youth get in the way. If he's ready to pitch in the big leagues, he's ready.”

Ricciardi also praised the arms of Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom, as well as the team's core of young relief pitchers in reiterating that the offense will be this winter's primary focus. Asked if he had a preference toward right- or left-handed batters or corner outfielders versus shortstops, Ricciardi simply replied, “I would say 'bats.' We need to improve our offense.”

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