Now comes the creative phase of the Mets’ offseason.
The more straight-forward portion concluded Wednesday, when Yoenis Cespedes’ new four-year contract worth $110 million became official at Citi Field, leaving general manager Sandy Alderson and his lieutenants to ponder the bullpen and perhaps the catching situation heading into next week’s winter meetings.
“Anybody who looks at our team right now, with the exception of a bench spot or two, the position players look pretty solid,” Alderson said. “The starting pitching looks pretty good and there are some questions in the bullpen that we are going to have to answer either internally or from external sources.”
It remains unlikely the Mets will chase a high-end reliever such as Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen, but the club could examine mid-range options such as Brad Ziegler, Mike Dunn and Fernando Salas (who spent the final month of last season with the club).
Or the situation could be resolved by a trade that would include Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson, both of whom are available in the Mets’ crowded outfield. The team is expected to trade Bruce and retain Granderson, but Alderson is listening to offers for both.
“We’ve come a long way from no outfield to an overcrowded one,” Alderson said. “But that’s a nicer problem to have and we’ll deal with it next week in some way.”
The catching market is limited, but Alderson isn’t ruling out a trade that would bring help. As it stands, the Mets have Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki tethered to the position.
“There is a capacity for growth there and improvement,” Alderson said. “We’ve seen it in the past and there is no reason we can’t get back to that. Now, if there are other opportunities — we pursued some last year — for upgrading our catching through trade or what have you, but realistically most of that improvement is going to come from within.”
The Mets traded pitcher Logan Verrett to the Orioles for $50,000, clearing a 40-man roster spot for Cespedes.
Verrett, a 26-year-old right-hander, was 3-8 with a 5.20 ERA in 12 starts and 23 relief appearances this year.
The Mets previously lost Verrett to Baltimore following the 2014 season in the Rule 5 draft, but he reverted to the Mets after he failed to stick on the Orioles’ (and later the Rangers’) big league roster for the entirety of 2015.