NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson arrived at the winter meetings with much of his heavy lifting for the offseason already done. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes has re-signed for $110 million over four years, and second baseman Neil Walker already accepted a qualifying offer worth $17.2 million for 2017.
The remaining items on the agenda:
Acquire a couple of relievers, either on one-year deals via free agency or in a trade for one of those outfielders.
See if any free-agent bench options make sense.
Listen to trade pitches from other teams.
“The nice thing is we’ve filled a couple of our holes, and we don’t have a huge amount to do,” Alderson said Sunday night. “But that doesn’t mean we can be any less prepared or less active. Just taking a look at our roster, from the bullpen to the bench, there are things we need to flesh out. We’ll see where we go over the next three days.”
Alderson said he has engaged only in preliminary discussions with respect to parting with an outfielder. Still, he speculated that he may benefit from the Houston Astros acting quickly in signing free-agent outfielders Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick.
“To the extent that we have left-handed outfield assets, the fact that Houston has been aggressive in taking two guys off the board is maybe a good thing,” Alderson said.
Alderson acknowledged that Granderson’s three years of productivity with the Mets and being part of the organization’s fabric would be a consideration in which player gets dealt between him and Bruce.
“That definitely would be a factor,” he said.
That said, Alderson cannot foresee trading both players, then pivoting to acquire another outfielder -- such as Andrew McCutchen.
“I’d say it’s unlikely,” Alderson said. “I don’t foresee that happening.”
“I don’t think we’re looking at that top end,” Alderson said.
Although a simple-assault charge may be dropped against Jeurys Familia at a Dec. 15 hearing in Fort Lee, New Jersey, the Mets still are bracing for MLB to suspend Familia. Alderson plans to have Addison Reed slide into the closer role in Familia’s expected absence. The team potentially will add a couple of middle relievers, ideally on one-year deals.
“The first guy we signed was a two-year deal, and that didn’t work out,” Alderson said, referring to the Mets’ signing of D.J. Carrasco in December 2010, shortly after Alderson took over as GM. “We’ve had subsequent two-year deals that didn’t work out all that well. In fact, we have about one a year. That’s why I think we’ll be a little bit cautious, especially with that midrange.”
Alderson said the answer may be using some of the Mets’ starting-pitching depth in relief next season, assuming everyone is healthy. Alderson listed Zack Wheeler as a potential reliever, presumably with Robert Gsellman in the rotation. Wheeler has missed the past two seasons while dealing with setbacks from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in March 2015.
Alderson suggested Wheeler may be a suitable reliever because he throws hard, and bullpen work may “minimize whatever lack of control may exist.”
“There’s no reason for us to say, ‘Well, he’s got to be a starter,’” Alderson said. “Now, he may feel that way himself. But it may be that coming back after two years he’s better off pitching out of the pen. You might have to be careful. You might not be able to pitch him back-to-back [days]. It might have to be two innings at a time. These are all hypothetical at the moment. But I don’t see any reason to just eliminate that possibility.”
On Wheeler’s health, Alderson added: “I’m not going to sit here and tell you, ‘Oh, he’s perfect. He’s ready to go.’ ... But we don’t have anything to suggest he won’t be ready to pitch in some capacity next year."
“With relievers, particularly with middle-relief types, you’re always better off with a one-year deal if you can get it,” Alderson concluded. “But sometimes that’s not possible. That’s why it’s so important to be able to get most of your relievers out of your own organization.”