Now that they finally have a general manager in Billy Eppler, the New York Mets might be building their offseason wish list.
SNY's Andy Martino reported the Mets "are actively seeking a minimum of two and as many as three free-agent starting pitchers." He added that team owner Steven Cohen is prepared to exceed the luxury tax in 2022.
Anthony DiComo of MLB.com listed Steven Matz as one target on the Mets' radar. Matz spent his first six years in MLB with the organization before getting traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Anthony DiComo @AnthonyDiComo
The Mets have made an offer to bring free agent pitcher Steven Matz back home to Queens, according to a source. Talks picked up significantly after Billy Eppler finalized his deal as GM last week, but lots of competition remains. Matz has already received eight different offers.
While Noah Syndergaard threw two innings across 2020 and 2021, New York's decision to give him the $18.4 million qualifying offer seemed to indicate the team's willingness to have him back in 2022. Instead, Syndergaard took slightly more to sign with the Los Angeles Angels.
Marcus Stroman remains unsigned as well. Eppler said last Friday the team is looking to reach out to the 2019 All-Star's representatives:
"Definitely want to engage with their agents and get a sense of where they're at"<br><br>Billy Eppler with <a href="https://twitter.com/martinonyc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@martinonyc</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/Jim_Duquette?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Jim_Duquette</a> on the Mets' interest level in retaining Javier Báez and Marcus Stroman: <a href="https://t.co/N6QlAdWFT6">pic.twitter.com/N6QlAdWFT6</a>
For the most part, the top arms in the 2022 free-agent class are still available. Syndergaard, Eduardo Rodriguez and Justin Verlander are some of the notable exceptions. That leaves Max Scherzer, Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Rodon, Steven Matz and Jon Gray among the best options on the table for the Mets.
The Mets haven't been a marquee free-agent destination in recent years, but that might have been down more to the frugality of the Wilpon family rather than a true reflection of the organization. Francisco Lindor's 10-year, $341 million extension is strong evidence of that.
If Cohen is truly willing to pay up, then anybody should theoretically be in the picture to serve as an ace alongside Jacob deGrom in the Big Apple.
The fanbase may not get its hopes up too much, though. Mets followers will still remember how a 2020 offseason headlined by Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner yielded Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.
The onus is on Cohen and Eppler this winter. The former will be expected to make a continued investment in the roster, and the latter needs to show he can sell established stars on the Mets' direction.