Here’s the latest on the Mets:
- Although the Mets are in need of a center fielder, Japanese free agent Shogo Akiyama isn’t near the top of their list, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. This year’s free-agent class is limited in center, where Brett Gardner (who’s not even a full-time CFer) looks like the premier player available. Meanwhile, the 31-year-old Akiyama is coming off a productive nine-season run in Nippon Professional Baseball, but he’s no sure thing to succeed in the majors. And Akiyama’s a left-handed hitter, which seems to run counter to their ideal acquisition in center. The club wants a player who hits from the right side and is a better defender than Brandon Nimmo, Mike Puma of the Post tweets. Shortstop Amed Rosario’s a righty batter, and though the team has considered moving him to center in the past, those days are gone. “I don’t see a scenario for him to be in center field,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said (via Sherman).
- While the Mets may not want Akiyama, they are among the teams interested in free-agent center fielder Matt Szczur, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The righty-hitting Szczur, 30, would likely be a minor league pickup, as the former Cub and Padre hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018. He had a brutal year then in San Diego, which forced him to sign a minors pact with the Diamondbacks last offseason. Szczur batted a solid .322/.390/.577 with eight home runs in 172 plate appearances as a member of the D-backs’ top affiliate.
- Pirates third base coach Joey Cora is the latest possibility to take over as the Mets’ bench coach, per Sherman. Cora, a former major league second baseman and the brother of Red Sox manager Alex Cora, has ties to new Mets manager Carlos Beltran and special assistant Omar Minaya, Sherman notes. He managed in the Mets’ minor league system when Minaya was their GM in the early 2000s. Cora, Fredi Gonzalez and Jerry Narron are the only known candidates to become the Mets’ bench coach. Longtime San Francisco assistant Ron Wotus had been in the running, but he’ll stay with the Giants as their third base coach, Daniel Brown of The Athletic relays.
- The Mets were aggressive in trying to upgrade their bullpen last offseason, when they surrendered significant resources for Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson. The latter was the only somewhat effective member of the trio, while the struggles of Diaz and Familia played a key part in another non-playoff season for the Mets. Considering that their bullpen was a letdown this season, the Mets could again look for help in that area this winter, though Van Wagenen contends that the club’s relief corps must “largely sink or swim based on how Diaz and Familia perform,” Sherman writes. Van Wagenen suggested Diaz, Familia, Wilson, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are set to reprise their late-game roles, but it’s unclear who will join that quintet.