During Carlos Beltran’s introductory press conference as the 22nd manager in New York Mets history, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen provided a rather vague explanation of his offseason plans.
But it still left the door open for Mets fans to dream.
“At this point, we’re going to explore all options with the roster,” Van Wagenen said. “Once we find the right fit, we’ll try to make that a reality.”
The Mets are entering one of the most important offseasons in franchise history.
The core of the team is well in place after a 2018 season that provided 86 victories.
Jacob deGrom is on his way to win a second-straight Cy Young Award.
Pete Alonso looks to be the game’s next big slugger after a monster 53-home-run campaign that should result in him winning NL Rookie of the Year.
Jeff McNeil is an All-Star, Michael Conforto put up his first-ever 30-home-run campaign, and Amed Rosario looked to turn the corner in his MLB development after slashing .321/.352/.452 in his final 90 games of the season.
This team has the potential to be a postseason contender. But an aggressive offseason makes them a World Series contender.
There is an obvious and immediate question of how much the Wilpon family is willing to invest in such an idea. The Mets owners have a well-known track record from shying away from making the big splash — whether that’s on the trade market or, mostly, in free agency.
But if the Mets are really as all-in as Van Wagenen claimed throughout his first year as GM, then the organization needs to get its ducks in a row.
So what moves would make the Mets immediate contenders?
First of all, they have to be in on both Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon. Not neither or one of them. Both.
Cole — the ace of the Houston Astros — went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts in 2019. And while rumor has it that he is going to head back toward the west coast, a hefty payday and the promise of him completing a one-two punch that includes deGrom would provide an awfully compelling offer.
It would also allow the Mets to let Zack Wheeler walk in free agency while also continuing to listen to any possible trade proposals for Noah Syndergaard.
Long-time Washington Nationals third baseman, Rendon, is a finalist for the NL MVP Award after slashing .319/.412/.598 with a career-high 34 home runs along with a league-leading 126 RBI and 44 doubles.
He would provide the Mets with a legitimate third baseman that provides Gold-Glove quality defense along with that marquee bat.
It would make the likes of JD Davis — another younger, promising bat — expendable and an attractive trade target for teams around the league.
A 26-year-old who batted .307 with 22 home runs in 140 games would certainly sweeten the pot of any trade package, though he wouldn’t be a marquee name.
Speaking of trades, the Mets should make it a point to harass new Red Sox general manager Chaim Bloom about the possible availability of superstar center fielder Mookie Betts.
With JD Martinez opting into his $62 million deal on Monday, the Red Sox will have to do some financial gymnastics to stay near the luxury tax threshold. Betts, who will be a free agent following next season, could be on the block.
The Mets need a true center fielder rather than shifting natural corner outfielders like Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. Betts — a four-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, and 2018 AL MVP — would address that void and more.