During Steve Cohen’s introductory press conference with the Mets, team president Sandy Alderson took questions from reporters and said a number of interesting things about the direction of the Mets.
The Mets finished in 4th place in three of the last four years, and they haven’t made the playoffs since 2016 when they lost a one-game playoff. The Mets made some win-now moves in recent years that raised expectations, but they’ve been unable to get over the hump. That said, Alderson likes the way the team has drafted, and he sees some pieces to build around, saying, “From an offensive standpoint, there are definitely some first-division championship pieces.” Speculatively speaking, masher Pete Alonso falls into this category, despite a down sophomore season in 2020. Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, and Dominic Smith put up strong seasons in 2020 as well. Smith, in particular, will be interesting to follow, because if there isn’t a DH in 2021, he may be out of a starting job.
On the pitching said, Alderson said, “Jacob deGrom is by definition an ace. He’s the definition of of Cy Young, if you will.” deGrom has been the face of the Mets for the past four seasons or so, over which time he won consecutive Cy Young awards, and he’s up for a third in a row this year.
He needs help in the rotation, however, especially with Noah Syndergaard on the mend and Marcus Stroman a free agent. On WFAN later in the day, Alderson fanned some rumor flames by speaking positively about free agent Trevor Bauer: “I actually think Bauer would be a great personality in New York. The kind of guy that fans would endorse. We’re in the entertainment business,” per New York baseball columnist John Harper (via Twitter). While Bauer would certainly fill a need in the organization, Alderson doesn’t go so far as to say he is a person of interest.
But there’s no denying the Mets as a fourth place team. Thus, Alderson covered some of their needs moving into the offseason, saying, “…There are things that we don’t do well. we need to shore up some positions. Our pitching staff is thin. Our depth at Double-A and Triple-A is thin or thinner. The bullpen has been inconsistent. We have needs behind the plate.”
In terms of specific players, he mentioned Brad Hand as someone they would have been interested in claiming on waivers if the timing had been different, per Tim Britton of the Athletic (via Twitter). He noted that the one-year, $10MM deal for Hand might be an overpay, but that sometimes the acquisition is more important than the cost itself, which speaks to his philosophy of roster-building.
Alderson even took some “credit” for the team defense, which he spoke of as an area that needs improvement. During Anderson’s run as GM from 2010 to 2018, an emphasis was put on offense. Moving forward, however, Alderson recognizes the need to address the other side of the ball. Speculatively, that could mean being open to moving one of Smith, Nimmo, or Conforto to find a more defensive-minded centerfielder. They could also start their defensive revamp by focusing on that end with whomever they bring in behind the plate.
All in all, Alderson took a measured approach in discussing the Mets’ future, recognizing some of the failures of the team in recent years. Ultimately, he landed on the side of optimism, saying, “…There is a foundation there, and I think if we can add the right pieces this year – and Steve has indicated that we’ll have the opportunity to do that – we can be pretty good pretty quickly, and that’s my goal for 2021.”