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Friday, September 29, 2023

The New York Mets get their man, now what?

David Stearns coming again to New York to grow to be president of baseball operations for the Mets was about one of many worst-kept secrets and techniques in baseball. The Mets requested to speak to him after he stepped down from his put up in Milwaukee and have been denied entry after final season, nevertheless it didn’t take a cocaine-addled non-public investigator to determine what would occur when his contract with the Brewers ran out. And so it got here to be, because the Stearns will likely be working the baseball operation for Steve Cohen come the top of this season.

There’s no query Stearns is available in with a reasonably impeccable resume, making a multi-division profitable crew with one of many decrease budgets within the sport with the Brewers. Although fleecing that model of the Marlins for Christian Yelich and being in the appropriate place on the proper time when the Cubs simply determined to abdicate their throne within the Central might have been achieved by nearly anybody keen. However past that, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Freddy Peralta, and one or two others have been produced by Stearns both by means of signing, draft, or commerce. And he actually benefited from attending to make use of Craig Counsell as supervisor, arguably the perfect within the sport. There’s plenty of followers in locations like Milwaukee that want they’d had Stearns.

Stearns’s hiring in New York is being in comparison with Andrew Friedman’s hiring in L.A., the parallel being a younger exec who needed to dance by means of the raindrops with a small-market crew and producing constant winners whereas doing so will now be given the F1 automobile that’s the finances of one of many largest groups within the league (hopefully Stearns can rent fewer abusers!). It’s not fairly as linear as that although. Friedman moved west from Tampa after the Dodgers had already grow to be an influence and have been on the again of two straight NL West titles. Whereas the Mets gained 101 video games final yr, there aren’t fairly as many issues in place because the Dodgers had (i.e. Clayton Kershaw). Friedman actually didn’t arrive with the crew having freshly simply executed a sell-off as Stearns has.

Actually, there are a few long-term items in place, or hopefully so. Francisco Alvarez seems to be to be set behind the plate for a great decade or extra. Mark Vientos has struggled on the plate in The Present, however tore AAA aside sufficient to be within the combine at third and DH subsequent yr. Drew Gilbert may arrive subsequent season as properly, and Ronnie Mauricio’s instruments are nonetheless tantalizing sufficient to wonder if he might declare second base or a nook outfield spot.

That doesn’t imply there aren’t points. One, the Mets are sort of previous in all places else. Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and Edwin Diaz will all be over 30 subsequent season. Pete Alonso will likely be 29 and likewise heading into his final season of arbitration. The Polar Bear is likely to be Stearns’s largest choice as quickly as he sits within the chair behind the larger desk than GM Billy Eppler’s acquired. Alonso is without doubt one of the sport’s premier sluggers, however nowadays when hitters get into their 30s is often after they begin to roll down the opposite aspect of the hill. Alonso might carry again a pair youthful items in a commerce from a crew that thinks he’s the ultimate piece (one wonders if Stearns hasn’t already known as Jed Hoyer and the Cubs about it). However he’s additionally not simply changed, and Stearns must resolve if he desires to commit plenty of years and plenty of {dollars} to a participant who will get all of them in his 30s.

Lindor remains to be a 5-WAR participant, and isn’t more likely to drop off a cliff subsequent yr, although his days of contending for MVPs are in all probability over. Nimmo in all probability can’t deal with middle for much longer and has seen his strikeouts climb, extra worrying if you see how a lot he’s whiffed at fastballs this yr over final (13 % to 19 this yr). Transferring him to a nook will get difficult with what number of gamers the Mets have already got attempting to try this (Marte, Mauricio, both Baty or Vientos might need to, and on we go) McNeil may already be beginning to odor humorous.

Furthermore, the Mets don’t have a rotation for subsequent yr. The one pitcher signed is Kodai Senga, together with no matter Tylor Megill or Jose Butto is likely to be (which isn’t a lot, no matter it’s). Stearns is fortunate in that each Cohen and Eppler made it very public that the Mets have been in a reset, which suggests expectations aren’t urgent for 2024.

Doubly good, as a result of subsequent yr’s free agent class is extra flea market than Rodeo Drive. There’s the hope of Shohei after all, although he gained’t assist the rotation in 2024. Past that, Cody Bellinger may resolve the Mets’ centerfield issues, or their first base issues in the event that they commerce Alonso, or each. So far as pitchers go, Sonny Grey at 35? Aaron Nola? Eduardo Rodriguez? It’s a great factor that Cohen gained’t be urgent to place a juggernaut on the market in ‘24, and that is one more space the place a commerce of Alonso is likely to be alluring, if Stearns can wrangle younger pitching in return. The Mets simply don’t have plenty of pitching within the system wherever shut.

Stearns could run into the issue of no matter he can usher in below the floor will likely be prepared for Queens proper when Lindor, Nimmo, McNeil, and Diaz have gone off the boil, equalling out and holding the Mets proper the place they’re. Or that Vientos, Mauricio, and Baty simply by no means discover MLB-level offense. It looks as if it needs to be a sweetheart job, given Cohen’s open pockets and versatile outlook. And it properly could flip into that in a pair years. However getting there gained’t be as straightforward because it was in L.A. for Friedman, and the endurance and luxury he present in Milwaukee gained’t be wherever to be present in New York.

Observe Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social

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