General manager Billy Eppler admitted that the New York Mets won’t wait for Jacob deGrom’s free-agency decision to sign other starting pitchers this winter.
“I wouldn’t say it’s critically important,” Eppler said on Thursday ahead of MLB’s Winter Meetings beginning Dec. 4. “We’ve assessed the market, we’ve had enough dialogue to get a sense of what can be a reality. We are positioned to executive other things if it makes sense and if we get close enough.
“We don’t need one thing to happen first before other things become a reality.”
The Mets need to address far more than just one spot in their starting rotation this offseason. Not only is deGrom a free agent, but Taijuan Walker and Chris Bassitt also opted out of their deals with New York to test the open waters of free agency this offseason.
Eppler would not provide an update on the status of negotiations with any of those starting pitchers. Meanwhile, rumors have also linked the Mets to the likes of 2022 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and highly-touted Japanese talent Kodai Senga, who will make the jump to the United States from Nippon Professional Baseball in 2023.
Signing either of those two free agents initially appeared contingent on bringing back deGrom given the expensive price tags that will be connected with each of them.
While MLB teams will be splurging on the promise of Senga, the 34-year-old deGrom is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and still one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball when healthy — granted, that’s a sizable hypothetical. Verlander will be 40 next season, but the three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2011 AL MVP has shown no signs of slowing down even after undergoing Tommy John surgery two years ago.
“I’m having active and pretty regular dialogue on a number of fronts,” Eppler said. “The volume of phone calls and connections that we’re making on a daily basis in the starting and relieving and the position player market, it’s pretty constant.”