Even boldness and creativity have their limits.
Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen acknowledged Wednesday that, for all of his ingenuity and energy — and endless discussion of those qualities — to get the Mets into the 2019 playoffs, getting either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado into the Citi Field home clubhouse would rank as quite an upset.
“The two big boys do not have offers from us quite yet,” Van Wagenen told WFAN’s Mike Francesa, as he, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and manager Mickey Callaway spent over 90 minutes in the studio. “I think we’ll always look … I think, clearly, if we try to operate under the parameters that Jeff and I have, we’ll have to be really creative to move some money around to make those guys work. But clearly they’re generational-type players that could work on any club, including ours.”
While the Mets have not indicated how high or low they’re likely to go with their 2019 payroll, they have not ranked anywhere near the game’s highest spenders since they slashed their expenditures in the wake of Bernard Madoff’s 2008 arrest. In 2018, their payroll stood at about $ 155 million, although they got back nearly $ 15 million from the $ 20 million they committed to team captain David Wright due to Wright’s injuries.
In other news from the brass’ interview with Francesa:
- Wilpon expressed a desire to retain National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob DeGrom, who can be a free agent after 2020, beyond his current team control.
“Jake’s a great young man, couldn’t be a better teammate,” Wilpon said. “People love him around the clubhouse. We’d like to see him stay here long term.”
Wilpon and Van Wagenen were vague about when such talks would occur.
- Van Wagenen said, “We definitely need more left-handed help” in the bullpen. The Mets are in touch with veteran southpaw Andrew Miller, with whom Callaway worked on the Indians.
- With Robinson Cano supplanting Jeff McNeil as the team’s everyday second baseman, Callaway said he envisions McNeil “as a Ben Zobrist type that can go play anywhere.” McNeil, who played the outfield in eight minor league games, will get some outfield reps during spring training, Callaway said.
- Callaway called last May 9, when the Mets were penalized for having uncoordinated lineup cards, “the worst day of my life. Every single day [afterward], that lineup card went up there, or a manager on the opposing team is standing on the top step the rest of the year, I panicked a little bit. It was something that I should have taken care of, and I felt like I let the team down.”
- Van Wagenen vowed to be “omnipresent,” a regular presence on Mets road trips. Some baseball operations heads, such as the Red Sox’s Dave Dombrowski and the Nationals’ Mike Rizzo routinely accompany their club on the road, while others, such as the Yankees’ Brian Cashman, do so infrequently. Van Wagenen’s predecessor, Sandy Alderson, ranked somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.