There’s been plenty of attention centered on the Mets’ bullpen needs this offseason, and new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen plainly indicated yesterday that his team is in the market for “multiple” bullpen pieces (Twitter link, with video, via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo). “I can’t imagine we’d be looking to try and do a ’one and done’ situation,” said Van Wagenen. As for the type of reliever he’s looking for, Van Wagenen spoke in general terms — missing bats, controlling the strike zone — but suggested that closing experience might not be a big factor. In fact, it seems there’s no guarantee the Mets even plan to use a set closer in 2019.
“I think a lot of teams are going away from a traditional closer,” said Van Wagenen. “I think we had — in [Robert] Gsellman and [Seth] Lugo last year — a lot was asked of those two guys. They were about as good as they could be. As long as we can control their workload and not put them in situations that are over-taxing, I think both those guys can get outs at the back end of the game — the last three outs in particular. We’ll see whether other guys can be added to that mix.”
Here’s more from Queens…
- In other Mets news, Van Wagenen says he feels the club is at least “covered” at the catching position, as Tim Healey of Newsday writes. That won’t stop the organization from looking at upgrades. In fact, the Mets have made a strong early push for glove-first backstop Martin Maldonado, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. It seems he’s the club’s top catching target in free agency, with Wilson Ramos of secondary interest. Meanwhile, pursuit of star Marlins backstop J.T. Realmuto does not sound particularly realistic. The Fish are evidently not enamored of the top New York prospects, so there may not be a deal to be made. (What should Realmuto cost in a trade? Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs took a worthwhile look at the subject.)
- Though late-blooming Jeff McNeil’s MLB audition lasted just over two months last season, he looks to have done enough to assure himself a spot in next year’s lineup. Van Wagenen said at this week’s GM Meetings that McNeil is “penciled in” as the team’s everyday second baseman for the 2019 season (Twitter link via Healey). McNeil opened eyes with a .329/.381/.471 slash through 248 plate appearances, and while he only homered three times in 63 games, he also hit 11 doubles and racked up six triples in that time. Most encouraging of all, perhaps, was the infielder’s minuscule 9.7 percent strikeout rate. Even if his .359 average on balls in play regresses, as one would expect, McNeil’s knack for putting the ball in play should help him hit for a quality average and get on base at a solid clip.
- The Mets have some coaching vacancies to fill, including hitting coach and bench coach. Puma tweets that former D-backs hitting coach Dave Magadan is among the Mets’ candidates to replace Pat Roessler at that position, while Matt Ehalt of the North Jersey Bergen Record tweets that former Cubs/Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis could also be in the mix. Meanwhile, Jim Riggleman, who recently left the Reds after being passed over for their managerial vacancy, is a candidate to take over as Mickey Callaway’s bench coach, Ehalt adds.