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The Mets Figured Out How to Have a Good Offseason

Sean Manaea pitches at home for the San Francisco Giants.

To have a good offseason you need to go for quality, not just star power. The Mets have now accomplished that.

What a difference a few months make, especially when you lose your key targets for multi-million-dollar long-term deals you probably would have regretted. That is the case for the New York Mets. After losing out on star players such as SP/DH Shohei Otani and SP Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the Los Angeles Dodgers back in December, the Mets realized that losing one or two players doesn’t mean the end of the hunt to bring a feeling of change. There are plenty of free agents out there looking for work. Ones who aren’t as famous as the aforementioned pitchers and could do the job for well below half the cost of the giant contracts. And the Mets have realized that quality is found in signing those players instead of the ones always in the spotlight.

Pitching, Pitching, Pitching

You can never have too much pitching. In the words of Peter Falk’s character from the opening of the 1979 classic film The In-Laws, “Gee, I can’t believe this trade. What do the Mets need another pitcher for? All they got is pitchers.” And boy do they. Since losing the star Japanese free agents, the Mets have signed quality arms to help bolster their bullpen.

They signed SP Sean Manaea to a two-year, $28 million contract that includes an opt-out after the 2024 season. New York Resigned RP Adam Ottavino to a one-year, $4.5 million contract. RP Shintaro Fujinami joined on a one-year contract worth $3.35 million, which includes $850,000 in incentives. However, Fujinami was sent to the triple-A Syracuse Mets due to a poor Spring Training performance. And RP Jake Diekman signed to a one-year deal worth around $4 million with a vesting option for 2025.

While Manaea hasn’t been the same player since he was traded from the Oakland Athletics after the 2021 season, he still has the dependable arm teams are familiar with. While his numbers with the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants weren’t up to par, signing him adds depth to the rotation. Manaea is on a team that is looking to win and a change in environment can do a lot to improve one’s performance. The Mets signed him due to what he did in the second half of 2023. Returning to the rotation after a rough time out of the bullpen for the Giants, he went 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts showing if allowed to shine and lead, he can.

Relief Additions

The return of Ottavino is a strange one. One of the players on the team to become a free agent after the mass shedding of the roster last year, Ottavino was testing the market. But the market never reached out. Seeking multiple years for more cash did not materialize, so needing a team to continue playing, Adam returns to the Mets to help the bullpen even more. While it remains largely unchanged for the most part, he did have a good year from July to September posting a 2.71 ERA over 66 appearances. A solid arm from a thirty-eight-year-old is rare these days. He’s no SP Nolan Ryan or RP Jamie Moyer, but he can strike out batters without someone asking him to.

Diekman is proof that a change in surroundings does wonders. Starting last season with the Chicago White Sox, a team going through massive problems, he had a terrible start to the year. In only thirteen games he posted 7.94 ERA and 2.12 WHIP before being released in May. When he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, things changed. His numbers improved, posting a 2.18 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 53 strikeouts in only 45.1 innings. He’s solid with the right team. The Rays made the playoffs last year, and the Mets have the same goal. And with the Mets, he can just be as solid if not better.

Minor Acquisitions

Outside these deals, the Mets have largely signed pitchers to minor league deals or claimed them off waivers. Among them, RP Kolton Ingram, initially taken on waivers by the Detroit Tigers from the Los Angeles Angels, was DFA’d by the Tigers before coming to the Mets on waivers. However, he will be starting the season with Syracuse. RP Phil Bickford, who was DFA’d to make room for DH/OF J.D. Martinez on the 40-man roster, cleared waivers and was released by the team after winning his salary arbitration. As for the players signed or traded for a few months back, only RP Michael Tonkin, RP Jorge López, RP Yohan Ramírez, and SP Adrian Houser all made the team.

SP Lucas Giolito, who was a potential target for the Mets, signed with the Boston Red Sox and is now out with an elbow injury. Another headache the Mets don’t need.

While the team is now dealing with injuries with several key members of the rotation and bullpen, SP Kodai Senga, RP Sean Reid-Foley, and RP Max Kranick, a waiver acquisition from the Pittsburgh Pirates, are out with injuries to start the year. All are on the 15-day IL. Not a way to start the year, but desperation is not for long.

Limited Depth

CF Harrison Bader, another former New York Yankee addition, signed a one-year contract worth $10.5 million. Bader, as Manager Carlos Mendoza said, will play center field, adding a backup option along with J. D. Martinez. Bader played respectably for the Yankees in 2023. In eighty-four games he batted .240 in 288 at-bats with 40 runs, seven home runs, 37 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases. While playing center, his 2.77 range factor/9 innings was second-best among outfielders in the AL, and his stolen bases percentage of 89.47% was the sixth best in the AL. He still has the speed and power bat from when he debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals and will be useful when swapping places with OF Brandon Nimmo.

The Mets haven’t made many improvements to other positions. C/OF Cooper Hummel was traded to the Giants for cash considerations on January 16. IF/ DH Justin Turner, with the possibility of a reunion happening, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays to a one-year, $13 million contract. 1B Luke Voit, who spent the entire 2023 season with the Syracuse Mets and had been released in August, re-signed with the Mets to another minor league deal on February 19. The team released him again on March 26. 1B/DH Ji-Man Choi agreed to a minor league deal on February 16 with an invite to Spring Training. Instead of being a free agent, he opted to go to the minors to start the year. The only man to survive the cuts was OF Tyrone Taylor.


Despite signing J. D. Martinez, both Martinez and 3B Mark Vientos are starting the year off the active roster. Nobody should buy that the team optioned Vientos because of Martinez’s spot on the roster. Both will do well in Syracuse, and if both are on the Mets, then the team will be in a stronger position.

1B Pete Alonso is the biggest question mark surrounding the Mets beyond 2024, and they need to solidify their future before it’s too late. Pete is the face of the franchise, and a franchise needs to save face at all costs. And he’s worth every penny.

The Mets have found ways since last year to avoid any pitfalls. Yes, they didn’t get the players they had hoped for at the start of the offseason, but it didn’t mean they lost out on everyone. While not as up to par with what we saw heading into the 2023 season, winning the offseason with big deals doesn’t guarantee any success. Success during the offseason is what you build rather than just what you buy.

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