A new team owner will be the Mets’ most celebrated free-agent arrival this offseason. But beyond Steve Cohen’s expected confirmation by MLB owners to complete his controlling-interest purchase of the club, on-field improvements are needed for 2021.
Free agency is underway, following the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over the Rays in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday. Here are five things to watch, pertaining to the Mets, as it begins.
1. Cohen’s wallet
With his estimated $14 billion fortune, Cohen will easily be the game’s wealthiest owner. The days of the Mets avoiding top-tier free agents should be over, replaced by a willingness to spend whatever is needed to put the team in the postseason on a yearly basis.
2. Trevor Bauer
The stud right-hander is the frontrunner to win the National League Cy Young award and will be the best starting pitcher available on the market. The Mets possess a sizable hole in their starting rotation behind Jacob deGrom. As it stands, David Peterson and perhaps Seth Lugo (if he doesn’t return to the bullpen) are the only other healthy starters the Mets can count on heading to spring training. The other big free-agent names include James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Marcus Stroman. As one addition likely won’t be enough – Noah Syndergaard will begin the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery – expect the Mets to be involved with multiple starters.
3. J.T. Realmuto
The Phillies catcher is the best free agent on the market and happens to play a position at which the Mets could use an upgrade. The Mets hold team options on Wilson Ramos and Robinson Chirinos for next season and Tomas Nido remains under club control. But Realmuto would bring an All-Star presence behind the plate and to the lineup.
4. Center field
A potent right-handed bat to put in between left-handed options such as Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo has been a want in recent winters. Do the Mets go top of the market and pursue George Springer?
5. Conforto contract
He won’t reach free agency until next offseason, but Conforto is coming off his best year and would appear ripe for a nine-figure extension. Cohen’s deep pockets could make it happen.
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