The Mets might not take a step back in 2024 after all.
On the heels of a disappointing 75-87 season and trade-deadline fire sale, many around MLB expected the Mets to enter a rebuild this offseason. New York’s former ace Max Scherzer revealed in August that prior to being traded, then-GM Billy Eppler informed him the team wouldn’t be singing top-tier free agents, instead viewing 2024 as a “transitory year.”
Rather than building a win-now team that could compete for the World Series this upcoming season, owner Steve Cohen and Co. reportedly planned on fielding a merely competitive team with their sights set on making a run in 2025 and beyond.
In the early stages of free agency, the Mets appear to be sticking to that plan. On Wednesday, New York signed former Yankee Luis Severino and versatile infielder Joey Wendle, two lower-tier free agents who are coming off of career-worst seasons. According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, however, far bigger acquisitions are likely to come.
The Mets are reportedly going all in on their push to land Japanese star pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shota Imanaga, among other big-name free agents.
Per one baseball executive, “They’re not messing around. I don’t think they have the stomach for a year or two to get the ship turned around.”
Following the midseason departures of co-aces Justin Verlander and Scherzer, the team’s front-end of the rotation is in dire straits barring rookie sensation Kodai Senga. Adding Yamamoto and Imanaga — two of the best starters in Nippon Professional Baseball this past season — would heavily bolster the rotation but also wouldn’t be cheap.
Despite appearing to be one of the big spenders in free agency once again, the Mets have learned their lesson from Cohen’s first three years at the helm. With David Stearns now serving as president of baseball operations, New York will look to make smart acquisitions that allow for sustained success, as opposed to reckless signings that may pay off in the short term.
“The priority explained to us was they are going to try to win as many games as possible [in 2024] without impacting the long-term goal of being a sustained championship contender,” an agent who’s spoken with Stearns said.
Though the days of “Uncle Steve” blank checks and careless spending sprees may be over, the Mets will surely be active in the free-agent market over the next several weeks.