The New York Mets are undoubtedly big-game hunting this offseason after the arrival of Steve Cohen and the subsequent appointments of Sandy Alderson as team president and most recently, Jared Porter as general manager.
In the first month of Cohen’s reign in Queens, the Mets have already bolstered their bullpen with the signing of Trevor May and catcher James McCann — which was made official on Thursday afternoon.
“James has established himself as one of the best dual-threat catchers in the game,” Alderson said. “His leadership and presence in the clubhouse were instrumental in guiding a young pitching staff into the postseason in 2020.”
Those moves are believed to be just the first of multiple major transactions this winter, which are also expected to include the acquisition of a center fielder and starting-pitching depth.
All-Star outfielder George Springer has been heavily linked with the Mets throughout the offseason with prominent MLB insiders predicting that’s where he’ll land for 2021 and beyond. The club has also been mentioned in the pursuit of 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner, Trevor Bauer.
Both will come at a sizable price tag, which the Mets will be able to fit under their luxury tax threshold after signing McCann on more of a bargain deal compared to the top catcher available, JT Realmuto. But Alderson explained on Monday night that a deal potentially involving a top-tier center fielder or starting pitcher — which he dubbed “the gourmet section” — might not come down the pipeline as quickly as McCann’s or May’s.
“Right now, things are a little slower in the gourmet section than they are in the meat department,” Alderson stated. “We’ve run up and down that aisle the last couple of weeks. Right now, I don’t think that part of the market is moving all that quickly.”
A major player in that gourmet section, Realmuto, only nudged the Mets further in the direction of McCann this offseason as their backstop of the future.
“We had discussions with JT and his representatives. They were great conversations. More than anything else, this was a timing issue for us,” Alderson said. “We have a number of needs. We can afford to wait to fill some of them, but we can’t afford to wait for all of them.
“This wasn’t a compromise pick. Part of it was our really strong interest in James, but at the same time, we had conversations with JT… The short answer is we talked to both.”
Realmuto wasn’t nearly as ready to sign for a club as McCann was considering the former’s most recent team, the Philadelphia Phillies, are sending mixed signals to the market. They lost $145 million during the pandemic and hinted that they couldn’t afford to retain Realmuto — who said he would prefer to stay in Philadelphia — but the hiring of Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations suggests that they will open their checkbooks this winter.
The Mets couldn’t wait that long to hinge their catcher hopes on Realmuto, especially if that meant waiting on his decision to then pursue the likes of Springer and Bauer.
“When you have different parts of the market moving at different paces, you have to make some decisions,” he said. “You have to make choices, not only based on the player alternatives, but also the timing.
“We’d like to build on that momentum [of signing McCann], but as Steve said, we’re not going to spend like drunken sailors, either… We’re definitely in the market and definitely talking.”