Mets Winter Meetings 2023 preview: What will be addressed in Nashville?

David Stearns Mets
Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns. (USA Today)

What should be the most pivotal week of the offseason for the New York Mets and around Major League Baseball begins on Monday down in Nashville with the 2023 Winter Meetings kicking off.

This is as direct as negotiations in pro sports can get. Front-office brass from all 30 teams will be on hand to talk trades with each other while representation of the top free agents available will also be on hand for negotiations, as well. 

The Mets are expected to be a busy bunch down in Tennessee as new president of baseball operations David Stearns continues the start of his franchise build. He’s already made a couple of notable moves in the last week, bringing on former All-Stars in infielder Joey Wendle and starting pitcher Luis Severino — both of whom are expected to provide depth at their respective positions.

Mets 2023 Winter Meetings primer

Biggest areas of need

Yoshinobu Yamamoto Mets
Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)

Starting pitching: The acquisition of Severino provides New York with a No. 4 or 5 option in their starting rotation, although the right-hander provides a significant wild card factor with his arrival. Injuries have derailed his career and he’s coming off his worst season yet where he dealt with pitch-tipping issues. 

As it stands, he joins Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana as the only veteran arms that hold the promise of consistency — though the latter two proved much more dependable last season. Senga was an All-Star and finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting while Quintana was strong following recovery from spring-training rib surgery.

Neither is a bona fide ace, though, even as Senga exhibited one of the most dastardly strikeout pitches the game has seen in recent memory with that ghost forkball.

It’s why Yoshinobu Yamamoto is deemed the top priority for the club this winter. The Japanese superstar just won his third straight Nippon Professional Baseball MVP and Sawamura Award (the equivalent to the Cy Young Award) and holds a sub-2.00 ERA in seven professional seasons. But he’ll have no shortage of suitors within his 45-day posting window, which began two weeks ago, as his MLB contract could fetch north of $200 million.

Yamamoto’s compatriot, Shota Imanaga, was posted on Monday and is reportedly another top target of the Mets. The southpaw is projected as a mid-rotation starter, meaning New York could potentially trout out an All-Japanese top trio of Yamamoto, Senga, and Imanaga come Opening Day — though a six-man rotation would likely become necessary given the increased workloads that both talents would have to build up to in Major League Baseball.

Teoscar Hernandez Mets
Teoscar Hernandez (Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports)

Designated Hitter: The Mets have been unable to find consistent production from the DH spot since MLB’s rule change ahead of the 2022 season. Darin Ruf and Daniel Vogelbach failed to cement their place as prime options while Mets designated hitters over the last two years ranked 20th in MLB with a .700 OPS and 26th with a .219 batting average.

There are veteran options on the market to fulfill such a void, especially for a team that would also look at an option to occasionally get into games in the outfield, as well, considering the injury issues surrounding Starling Marte in right field and the lack of a clear left fielder heading into 2024 — at least at this moment.

Jorge Soler and Teoscar Hernandez are two immediate candidates who could step in. Since 2018, Hernandez has posted 162-game averages of 32 home runs with a .801 OPS while Soler hit 36 home runs last season with the Miami Marlins and 48 in 2019 with the Kansas City Royals. Over the past five seasons, he has an .820 OPS. 


Trade talks?

Mark Vientos Mets
Mark Vientos (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)

Considering their suddenly burgeoning farm system which the club ultimately will try to steer clear of subtracting from, the Mets are going to be linked in hypothetical trade talks in the next week.

They’ve already been linked to Juan Soto, though the Yankees are considered more of the favorites with the Toronto Blue Jays emerging as potential dark horses, and the trade market is still very much an avenue for acquiring pitching help, both starters and relievers. The Tampa Bay Rays have dangled Tyler Glasnow — a considerable ace-like name available even with recent injury issues plaguing him. 

One name that has been floated in trade rumors has been slugger Pete Alonso, whose future remains uncertain in Queens. While Stearns said that he expects the 29-year-old to be the Opening Day first baseman, this is his last year under team control and there appears to be zero headway in talks of an extension. His presence in any potential deal would bring back a hefty return, even if the idea of trading away a homegrown talent on pace to smash franchise record books would be a move considered shrewd by many. The chances of the Mets trading him appear to be remarkably low, but one can’t say they’re at 0%.

The Mets appear to have more tangible trade pieces in an ongoing third-base triangle between a trio of prospects in Brett Baty, Mark Vientos, and Ronny Mauricio. The logjam makes at the very least one of those names expendable. It appears that Vientos would be the most likely player at this time considering early expectations of Mauricio and Baty battling it out for the starting third-base job come spring training. 

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