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Mets enter Winter Meetings focusing primarily on pitching and defense

Nature

Ahead of this week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., league sources suggested the Mets have focused primarily on pitching and defense. To that end, they want to add an outfielder who can help them defensively, league sources said. With speed, some power and a Gold Glove Award in center field, someone like free agent Michael A. Taylor fits the profile.

That doesn’t mean the Mets are certain to sign Taylor. These players attract a host of potential suitors. For example, Taylor, who had 21 home runs and 13 stolen bases with a .720 OPS for the Minnesota Twins last year, attracted strong interest from several clubs, league sources said.

From a speculative standpoint, several options exist, similar to Taylor, 32, either in free agency or via the trade market. Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee is another player who fits the mold. For the Mets, think: good defense, offensive contribution and preferably some experience in center field.

Last year, New York’s outside defense ranked near the bottom of the league in several statistics, including FanGraphs’ total defensive runs recorded above average (the Mets checked in at minus-16 , better than just five clubs).

One way to improve defensively in the outfield is to add someone to complement Brandon Nimmo in center field. At a minimum, such a central defender could also serve as insurance for Starling Marte, putting Nimmo in a corner on those days. Marte, 35, is coming off his worst season and has played in just 86 games in 2023. Elsewhere in the outfield, Jeff McNeil can play any corner when not manning second base while DJ Stewart profiles more as a bench player. So there is work to be done.

As baseball’s top executive, Stearns never shied away from having too many good players in any particular group. During general managers’ meetings last month, Stearns described Brandon Nimmo as someone who has proven to be “a very good center fielder.” Although he insisted he had confidence in Nimmo’s play at center field, he also said, “If there are ways to improve our team by allowing Brandon to play some corners, We will explore it.”

Another way the Mets can improve is by adding to their roster. It’s plausible that some of their returning players who have struggled offensively are producing better numbers. But New York should look for a way to modernize, with designated hitter presenting a particular area of ​​growth. Later in the offseason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Teoscar Hernández, Jorge Soler and JD Martinez come into play for the Mets – provided those players are still on the board.

For now, however, the Mets appear determined to address run prevention first, which should come as no surprise since Stearns cited it as a top priority. With lingering holes in the starting rotation and bullpen, big names like Japanese starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto remain interesting. While the pitching market has been growing, the Mets have stayed busy. So far, they’ve added right-handed starting pitcher Luis Severino and veteran infielder Joey Wendle, along with a handful of waivers and minor league signings to improve the margins. More moves are coming – besides some obvious pitching help.

(Top photo of Michael A. Taylor performing a jump: Dylan Buell / Getty Images)

Nature
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