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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Mets staying open to more moves this winter – Boston Herald

Billy Eppler spoke for the first time following the end of the Carlos Correa negotiations Tuesday afternoon. There has been a lot of finger-pointing and blame-shifting over the last week with Correa returning to the Minnesota Twins after two failed deals with the San Francisco Giants and the Mets.

Scott Boras seems unhappy that the Mets consulted with the same doctor the Giants consulted with about his surgically-repaired ankle. Mets fans are angry Correa is still being talked about in New York considering he never actually became a Met.

So, Billy Eppler opted not to talk about what went wrong in the deal Tuesday during a Zoom press conference with the media that was held to formally introduce catcher Omar Narvaez and re-introduce reliever Adam Ottavino. The GM can’t say a whole lot since Correa is now a member of another team, to begin with, but he declined to discuss the dealings from the Mets’ perspective.

“Appreciate the question and the purpose behind asking it,” Eppler said. “However, I’m not going to go into any detail there just out of privacy reasons, as well as out of respect to Carlos. So I appreciate the question, but I’m not going to elaborate.”

Shortly after the Mets and Correa came to terms on what was initially a 12-year, $315 million contract, owner Steve Cohen said the team had been in need of “one more thing” and that Correa, a 28-year-old two-time All-Star shortstop, was that thing. Last year’s lineup produced runs but didn’t hit many home runs. Correa is not a long-ball hitter, though he’s good for about 20-25 each season. However, he would have made the lineup more formidable in the middle.

So the biggest question remaining is whether or not the Mets will try to bring in another hitter to add depth to the lineup. They were in talks with outfielder Andrew McCutchen last week before he went back to the Pittsburgh Pirates, so the possibility of adding another hitter is not out of the question.

“I think we have a strong and deep lineup. I’m confident in our group’s ability to score runs,” Eppler said. “I think this goes without saying and I think I’ve said in the past — relating that to any one of the areas of the organization — you can always be better. That’s kind of the purpose of making sure that you’re not sitting in a fixed mindset and you kind of adopt a more of a growth-based mindset where you can always improve. That’s what we’re going to look to do. You have to look for opportunities out there.”

The trade market is currently quiet and all of the elite free agents have already signed with other teams. In recent winters we’ve seen impact players languish in free agency sometimes until April but the market was extremely robust this winter. The only players left are of the depth variety, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a team that already has a very strong lineup but could still afford to add a few pieces to bolster that depth.

But if the Mets enter spring with the current roster, Eppler is confident that it will be competitive. He also thinks the new rule changes regarding shifts and defensive positioning could benefit a lineup that is heavy on contact and on-base abilities.

“Some reasons for optimism on our part is one we’re going to see a little bit more restriction of defensive positioning,” Eppler said. “As we see the restrictions on defensive positioning that happened in the game. I think it stands to reason that some contact and a contact approach would get rewarded. There’d be more traffic on the bases to couple with that high on-base percentage. You’re probably going to see average go up a little bit.

“If you look at our offensive environment, there are many ways to score.”

Eppler is also open to adding another bullpen piece, should a move present itself. The word he has used all throughout the winter has been “opportunistic” and it doesn’t sound like that’s about to change anytime soon.

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