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You ever have $105 million burning a hole in your pocket?
Then you can relate to the Mets.
OK, that represents a slight misconstruing of what went down Friday. What’s clear, however, is that Steve Cohen still has money to spend on his Mets for 2021 and beyond after trying hard for Trevor Bauer, offering the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner $105 million, and seeing him opt for a lower offer ($102 million) from his hometown Dodgers.
Here are the most viable and sensible options that remain for the Mets to invest in their club:
1. Starting pitching
At the moment, the Mets’ Opening Day starting rotation consists of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi, with Noah Syndergaard aiming to return in midseason from Tommy John surgery. When you factor in that teams will be adjusting from a 60-game 2020 season back to the standard 162 games (they hope), more depth will be required. The starting-pitching market has moved the least of any position this offseason. Among those still available are Jake Odorizzi, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker.
Justin Turner and James PaxtonRobert Sabo, Getty Images
2. Center field
It would get hairy if the Mets imported a center fielder superior defensively to Brandon Nimmo and the National League didn’t implement the designated hitter, since you’d shift Nimmo from center field to left field, Dom Smith from left field to first base and Pete Alonso from first base to … the bench? Obviously platoons would come into play. However, common sense says the DH will return to the NL this year, and how good would free agent Jackie Bradley Jr. or the Brewers’ Lorenzo Cain, a potential Milwaukee salary dump, look patrolling the middle of Citi Field’s outfield?
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3. Third base
J.D. Davis, whom the Mets defeated in arbitration Friday (he’ll make $2.1 million), remains a defensive liability at the hot corner. Could Sandy Alderson convince his favorite mistake, Justin Turner (who is still a free agent), to return to Queens? A trade for the Cubs’ Kris Bryant appears less likely.
Two of the Mets’ best players, homegrown Michael Conforto and recently acquired Francisco Lindor, are in their walk years. Lindor expressed an openness to bypassing free agency as long as it occurs early in spring training. A package of more than $300 million is possible. Conforto, whose agent Scott Boras usually takes his clients to free agency, would likely need well over $100 million to stay put.