Eppler Plays New York Mets Cards Slowly Prior To Winter Meetings
Some may say that dishing out a record contract to your closer days after the conclusion of the World Series isn't playing your hand slowly. As New York Mets general manager Billy Eppler heads into his second off-season at the helm of Steve Cohen's team, he is well aware that one has to move fast at times and be patient at others to be successful. Eppler made some key acquisitions last winter, like right fielder Starling Marte, left fielder Mark Cahna and third baseman Eduardo Escobar. Those three moves, along with Eppler's hire of Manager of the Year, Buck Showalter, changed the culture of the Mets. Now it's time to continue the improvement. That is what Cohen expects.
The Mets GM is faced with losing free agents; ace Jacob deGrom, All Star center fielder Brandon Nimmo, 12-game winner pitcher Tijuan Walker and 15-game winner Chris Bassitt. Eppler quickly took care of All Star reliever Edwin Diaz immediately after the conclusion of the World Series because Diaz is a rare commodity, a closer that can handle New York. If "Sugar" is half as sweet as 42 was in the Bronx, the Mets will consider $102 million a steal.
Eppler has played the Jacob deGrom situation carefully. He made it public that the Mets wanted deGrom back. However, it appears that the Mets will not over-pay for Jake's services nor will many other teams. The Texas Rangers, once in hot pursuit of the 2-time Cy Young Award winner, now seemed to have cooled on the free agent right-hander. deGrom walked away from $30.5 million remaining on his contract with the Mets. It is rumored that he is seeking $120 million or more for the next 3 years. No one seems willing to give Jacob deGrom more than 2 years at this point. Eppler is smart to play the deGrom market slowly.
As the winter meetings begin on Sunday, the market for players like Nimmo, Walker and Bassitt will no doubtably heat up. Nimmo is sure to have many suitors, as will Walker and Bassitt. The Mets don't seem in any rush to bring Brandon Nimmo back, which is confusing, unless the price-tag is unreasonable. Walker is good pitcher but replaceable and Bassitt seems like he can't wait to sign anywhere but New York. Unlike in the past, this Mets organization has money and therefore is playing some pretty good cards. Now Billy Eppler has to win a few hands and get his team to a World Series.