Luis Severino and Harrison Bader, the former cross-town Yankees with their familiarity to fans and New York City is better than nothing. They have been key components of a Mets offseason strategy of signing players to limited and short-term deals. Can both have an impact on the Mets strategy to stay competitive this year and spend in 2025?
Regardless, the strategy of David Stearns, Mets president of baseball operations has always been outlined to keep the payroll at a significant limit. We have seen that strategy transpire and don’t expect a blockbuster free agent signing prior to the commencement of spring training in four weeks.
Again, something is better than nothing. The contention is a healthy Severino reverts to form and the injury prone Bader does the same. The reality is a Mets roster that has not vastly improved and the emphasis also is signing Pete Alonso to a long term deal which remains in the balance. The Mets and Alonso settled in arbitration, a good PR move from the management side to avoid the messy hearing. Alonso will earn $20.5 million dollars next season.
I am convinced the one-year spending will continue and Stearns will continue the strategy, this with remaining free agents on the board and speculation about their final destinations. For the moment, though, the Mets are not expected to sign pitchers Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery to long term contracts.
The strategy would make more sense to land Justin Turner, the former Met to a one-year contract. That would fill a void at third base as the Ronny Mauricio injury has pivoted Stearns to go in another direction. Matt Chapman would be a nice fit at Citi Field, but his potent bat and defense are too costly and not the strategy.
In the meantime, Wednesday, on a Zoom media call it was Stearns addressing the offseason of limited spending and outlook as spring training is rapidly approaching. One certainty, Stearns is following his strategy and keeping the fan base informed.
Stearns comments of interest: “I don’t think you’re ever finished, especially when you’re talking about starting pitching. I think we’re going to be perpetually on the lookout for ways to improve ways to get better, ways to add.”
And he said, “I think we’ve made significant progress,” referring to the addition of three pitchers for the starting rotation with Severino, Adrian Houser, and Sean Manaea.
The Mets rotation as of now will be Kodai Snega, Jose Quintana, Severino, Houser, and Manaea. All contingent on their spots. Depth, though, as Stearns says is always needed. Perhaps another addition is coming after losing on the Yamamoto sweepstakes.
Tylor Megill, Joey Lucchesi, Jose Butto and David Peterson (rehabbing from hip surgery last November and is not expected back until mid-season) are in the mix. Also the Mets have developed some pitching prospects that could work their way into the rotation. It’s a part of this strategy, though understanding a fan base is not content after a lost 2023 season, a team with the highest payroll in baseball and spending spree that did not work.
But for Stearns this is a strategy that will work, at least for the time being. What is not bypassed is owner Steve Cohen and ability to spend as the NL East favorites, the Braves and Phillies got stronger, along with the improved Marlins. Never count out a Nationals team that continues what looks like a solid rebuild in their process to contend.
“There’s no perfect team and we are not perfect in various segments of our roster so we’re going to stay involved across the board,” Stearns said.
That was a statement and specifically addressed to the fan base, perhaps better than one offered from various predecessors of GM’s and personnel. Need I say the Wilpon owned era of the Mets was always under question. Involved in the process was never a question when Sterans assumed his role, a trusted and valuable commodity for Cohen.
I believe Bader will be a good fit. As stated in a previous column Severino, who is signed to a low risk one-year $13 million contract and could have a bounce back season after a final run with the Yankees, although not one to be remembered. A concern for the past few seasons, was Severino tipping his pitches?
“There’s a lot of things that I think I was doing wrong,” Severino said on the media call. “I always have problems with tipping and stuff like that. I think I need to address that now so when I go on the mound when the season starts. I just need to focus on pitching and forget about my glove is too high or too low.”
Bader on the same call also discussed his $10.5 million one-year deal and is anxious to share outfield duties with Starling Marte and Brandon Nimmo. He was limited to 86 games in 2022 and the former Yankee did not make his debut until May 3 last year due to a fracture in his right foot.
“Clearly something was off,” said the 2021 Gold Glove award winner then with the Cardinals. “And when one thing goes, you try to compensate with speed, and then something else goes. And before you know it, you’re playing catch-up with yourself.”
Both good investments for the Mets. Catching up for Severino and Bader will be vital if the Mets are to amount to anything and be a viable contender. These are some of the questions as the David Stearns strategy continues and that includes another bullpen arm or potent bat in the lineup at minimal cost.
“We want high expectations,” said Stearns. “We want our fans passionately engaged and we want them really to demand excellence.”
My friends, that is the strategy and it deserves a chance. It’s better than nothing.
Rich Mancuso: X (formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso