New Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has given every indication that the organization will push to contend right away. He also rather notably suggested that the Mets would not shy away from adding through the free agent market. What remains unclear, however, is the club’s plan to pay for new additions. The New York org has opened each of the past two campaigns with $150MM or so in payroll. With arb money factored in for 2019, there isn’t much of a gap between the team’s existing commitments and its recent levels of spending. Addressing the media again yesterday, Van Wagenen was non-committal about the financial expectations, as Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweets. While he reiterated that the Mets don’t see any free agents as being off limits, he also stated that the subject of payroll has not even been broached in detail with ownership.
Needless to say, that’s a bit of a curious statement given that the offseason is at hand. Here’s more from Van Wagenen’s chat:
- Catching is one area of some focus for the Mets, and it seems that Van Wagenen is contemplating some maneuvering with his options behind the dish. As Mike Puma of the New York Post covers on Twitter, Van Wagenen indicated that the club is drawing interest in its existing fleet of backstops — including, it seems, the Tommy John rehabbing Travis d’Arnaud. Despite his evident talent, the 29-year-old backstop has rarely stayed healthy or produced consistently. He projects to earn $3.7MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility. That seems like a fairly hefty rate of pay, but Van Wagenen indicated the Mets could tender d’Arnaud and then deal him. While Van Wagenen says d’Arnaud will “hopefully” be ready to play, as DiComo adds on Twitter, there are still no assurances that he’ll be tendered.
- In terms of catching targets, Tim Healey of Newsday tweets that Van Wagenen spoke well of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, though he hardly gave any clear indication that there’ll be a pursuit. Realmuto figures to draw strong interest from a variety of contenders, and it’s frankly somewhat difficult to see the Mets coming away with him. There are certainly plenty of other possibilities, of course. We broke down the broader market situation about a month ago in our Market Snapshot series.
- As for infielder Wilmer Flores, another player with a questionable arbitration situation, Van Wagenen also walked a fine line. As DiComo tweets, the new GM did not say definitively that Flores will be tendered — which would cost a projected $4.7MM. But Van Wagenen seemingly spoke in terms that suggest Flores is in the organization’s plans. “I think he should be healthy and ready to go,” Van Wagenen said of the 27-year-old Flores, “and we will be counting on him. … He’s had a long track record of performing against left-handed pitching.”
- The win-now mantra in Queens will also extend to prospect promotions, it seems. As DiComo covers, Van Wagenen made clear he won’t keep down Mets first base prospect Peter Alonso to open the year if he shows he deserves a roster spot. While no executive would admit to playing with service time with a top prospect, Van Wagenen went further in discussing one of the club’s best-regarded youngsters, who he labeled a potential “impact player.” Van Wagenen says that the Mets want “to put the best 25 guys on the field” and notes that “the wins in April are just as important as the wins in September.”
- Meanwhile, Van Wagenen also gave a recent update on QB-turned-TV analyst-turned minor-leaguer Tim Tebow. As DiComo writes, the new Mets exec — who was most recently an agent who repped Tebow and quite a few other Mets players — gave rather an optimistic take on the former Heisman winner’s chances. Tebow, he says, will likely open the 2018 season at Triple-A but could even be considered for the MLB roster “if he wows us.”