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Winter Meetings interview with Mickey Callaway

MLB.com

Q. Being around Terry [Colllins], what's that been like for you to talk to him? Is it real weird to have him around? What's that like for you?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: No, it's been great. I think that information is valuable, and he's got a lot of information about things that happened with the Mets. We're going to always use every bit of information we can to get better. Knowing his points of views on things are really helpful to me. So I'm going to value that relationship and learn from him and his experiences.

Q. Being around Terry [Colllins], what's that been like for you to talk to him? Is it real weird to have him around? What's that like for you?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: No, it's been great. I think that information is valuable, and he's got a lot of information about things that happened with the Mets. We're going to always use every bit of information we can to get better. Knowing his points of views on things are really helpful to me. So I'm going to value that relationship and learn from him and his experiences.

He was a great manager here for a long time, one of the longest tenured managers in Mets history. So he knows a thing or two, and I'm going to use that to my advantage and to the Mets advantage.

Q. Mickey, you're coming from a team that had a lot of success the last few years even though you didn't have the biggest payroll in your division. Do you have that underdog or us against-the-world mentality that made you guys strong?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, we used every resource we could. I think knowing that you didn't have all the money in the world to spend, that you had to do everything else better than everybody else -- from health, from juicing, to making sure guys are hydrated. I know that's been kind of an issue that we've brought up.

But it's not just those little things, it's consistently doing things on a daily basis, and it's a grind, and it's very tough. But you stick after it, and you do something special with a group of people that feels really special in the end.

Q. And New York, obviously, is probably in one of the biggest payroll divisions.

MICKEY CALLAWAY: It is. And that's the right way to do things. Use every possible resource you can, and do things that make sense. That's what we do.

Q. You talk about hydration. How do you get buy-in from players who maybe haven't been accustomed to it. Especially for Major League players that maybe have a low [inaudible]?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, that can be an issue. The good thing is today's player likes technology. If you use technology, they're going to love it and find it intriguing. It kind of is not boring throughout the day. So there's that.

I think the main thing is showing them that it's going to help their performance, and that's what we're all about. We want to win games. We want our players to be the best they can be, and that's what we're trying to accomplish with all of these little things. And they may seem tedious, but sometimes those smaller things, paying attention to those smaller, tedious tasks is what it takes to win. And if you want to win, you're going to do that. When players know that it's going to help them, they're going to do it.

Q. You expect 100 percent buy-in on something like that, or is that something --

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Absolutely not. Everybody's an individual, and I wouldn't ever make guys do things just to make them do it. I'm going to teach them that, hey, this makes sense for you to get better. If you don't get total buy-in then, then you continue to try to improve them in other ways. You can't make people do stuff, but you can coach them and educate them on why it makes sense to do it.

Q. Mickey, you have a lot of starting pitchers beyond [Noah Syndergaard] and [Jacob deGrom]. Does it basically reopen the competition for those other three spots, or how's that going to work?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, I think any time you have -- I feel like a lot of teams would like to have our starting staff and the depth that we have. Any time you have a lot of pitchers that are capable of pitching in the major leagues, there's competition. And it's not just, oh, you know what, I'm going to make the team to start the season. Sometimes the guys that make the team to start the season are there probably for fewer days than a guy that doesn't, and that's just the reality of baseball, especially when you're talking about options and stuff.

So it's going to be about being the best you can be. And, hey, when things get rolling, we're going to have a competition amongst our starters to outdo the guy that pitched the day before. And it's a healthy competition amongst teammates that creates a lot of success. There's going to be competition every single day.

Q. I mean, but from that group, is there any one or two guys that you say, well, if they're healthy, he's in there already, or not?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: No. I mean, we have to watch and see and evaluate and make sure that guys are working. That's, for me, you can't have expectations on numbers. I have expectations that guys are going to work hard, and that's how we're going to evaluate guys.

Q. Do you guys have like an early camp for like pitchers or something like that? I know you mentioned that. Maybe you could explain what that is.

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, the guys, in talking to myself and [pitching coach] Dave [Eiland], are excited. It sounds like guys are going to be there really early to get things started.

Q. But nothing like special, like everyone come down super early?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: No. The players are so excited they want to get there and start getting to work. They're asking us when we'd be there. It's kind of cool.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about what you do with these pitchers in the off-season to try and get them ready. Do you have kind of a set way that you like pitchers to get themselves ready, or do you and your staff, do you guys kind of tailor to each individual guy what you think works for them?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yes. So we have suggestions as far as throwing programs. When you're talking about Major League Baseball players, they usually have their routines and their throwing programs. So we have a couple of throwing programs, one that Dave has used in the past, one that I've been around in the past, and those guys are aware of those programs. If they can take anything out of those programs to improve themselves, then we'll encourage that.

I think that we will make sure that there's structure, and we'll provide the necessary resources for their routines so they can accomplish those throughout the offseason to get to a point where they can have success starting the first opening day and throughout Spring Training. But we definitely know that everybody's an individual, and we're going to tailor their work for that player.

Q. You said you were going to watch video of every game. How far along are you?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: So when I'm in my office in New York, I have it kind of playing. They can condense a game down to 20 minutes. That's a tall task. I've been trying to do it. I don't know if I'm going to make it all the way through.

I think, more than that, I'm trying to hone in on individuals, and as I'm watching a game, if I see something like a position player, I'll kind of hone in on him and kind of watch what he's doing.

So it's been really -- I just want to be familiar with what the players can do.

Q. Well, now, when you met [Matt Harvey] and you watch what he's doing on there, how much of it do you think is a physical issue, and how much of it is up here?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: I'm not really sure yet. I've talked to him on the phone. There's a lot more evaluating and talking to and seeing him throw, Dave getting his hands on him in the offseason that needs to be done before we can even discuss that, really.

Q. Mickey, coming in, where do you guys kind of fit? You have a rotation with a lot of potential, but it has health questions. You have some younger players. You have some goals. Kind of on the spectrum between like World Series favorite and like rebuild, where do you think you guys kind of fit in from what you know about the team?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: I think any team, no matter where they've been identified as rebuilding or a contender is going to have expectations to win, and we're not going to be concerned about what direction anybody thinks we're going in. We're going to do everything we can every day to create a culture that wins, and if we win this year, great. If not, we're going to be putting methods, routines, processes in place to create this culture where we're going to sustain winning for a long time, and that's our ultimate goal.

That goal of winning this year is definitely there, and we're never going to consider ourselves in rebuild mode or championship mode. We're going to have a process for everything we do. And we're going to stick to that process. We're going to go A, B, C, D, and not go A, Z, because things get lost, and things don't get accomplished what you need done, and you can't win like that consistently.

Q. Guys from surgery last year, Jeurys Familia never really made it back to the closer's [role]. Going into next year, is he a closer in your mind, or do you have to figure that out in Spring Training?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: I think we're going to pitch guys when it makes sense, and we're going to pitch guys to our strengths, and they're going to face the batters they should be facing. If that means he's going to close every game, that could happen if it lines up that way. We're not locked into that. I think that we have to make sure we get to a save situation, and if we can't get there, it doesn't do any good to have this guy be named the closer. So we're going to pitch guys when it makes sense, and we're going to do everything we can to win every night.

Q. Can it work over 162 games to not have a dedicated closer?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, I think it can if you're having pitchers face the guys they're supposed to face.

Q. Mickey, I know it's not as simple as one sentence, but the launch angle, 12-6 curveball, high fastball -- is that an actual counter to what a lot of guys' approach at the plate actually is now?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, it's a counter to a guy that's probably trying to lift the ball, even if it's not him trying to create a launch angle, just his normal swing. I think it's the pitching coach's job, the pitcher's job, the catcher's job to identify what kind of swing any hitter has and come up with a plan to attack that swing. If they have a little bit of a dip and swinging up, then the high fastball, especially a good ride and four-seamer and the breaking ball in the dirt seems to counter that pretty good.

Q. Is that a pitch that you can learn -- can you teach guys to throw 12-6 and really work it consistently if they haven't had it in the arsenal?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: You can. That takes time. I think the key to pitching is to pitch with your best stuff. In Cleveland, we had every one of our starters had a nasty curveball. So they threw their best pitch, and it wasn't necessarily us teaching curveballs and stressing curveballs. It was just us stressing their best pitch and their best weapon against hitters.

So you can teach it. It's going to take some time. You're not going to learn it in a week in Spring Training and then all of a sudden use it in the game when the game's on the line, first game of the season, but I think there's value to a curveball in slowing the bat down and being able to lead with that pitch, bury it.

I think you could do the same with a slider if you're using that pitch the same way. If you're just trying to throw it middle and you're never bouncing it, that's where you come into a problem.

Q. Could you clarify, when you talk about your closer, are you saying you don't want to go into the season having somebody named your closer, or all season long you don't want to have somebody be called the closer?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, I think it depends on what Spring Training looks like. I don't think I'm prepared to say one way or the other. I have thoughts going into the season that I just want our pitchers to face the batters they're supposed to face. If it means he's a closer, then he's a closer. I'm not really concerned about titles. I don't think the players, from talking to them, are concerned about titles. These players want to win and want to pitch and want to have success, and that's what we're going to set them up to do.

Q. Mickey, so along those lines, it's like you're talking about high leverage situations and stuff like that. Is Familia the guy you bring into your quote-unquote high leverage situation or it depends on numbers, matchups?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: It definitely depends on suspected OPS, OPS that we know has already happened. I'm going to look at all that information. I'm going to look at where does this pitcher's fastball end up, and is that the same spot that this guy hits the ball really well?

So there's probably 50 factors that goes into why you're bringing a guy in, and we're going to take all those into account.

Q. Mickey, a lot of people looked at that and talked about [inaudible]. Obviously, you're not talking that way. I was wondering, in your career, when do you think that changed over in your mind when you looked at it more as a leverage perspective? What kind of swayed you that way?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: I think being around Terry Francona, who has done that the best. It's not just that one high leverage situation that defined how Tito ran his bullpen. He set everybody up, whether it was the 12th pitcher on the staff, that last guy in the bullpen, never faced guys he shouldn't have. So if you go back and look at Terry Francona's bullpens, there's not too many guys that ever struggled under his -- when he was their leader. Everybody on the staff pitched good for a reason because they always faced the guys they were supposed to.

If you do that, then players can pitch whenever, and they want to pitch whenever. Now, you've got to have the right personalities to do it. We were lucky to have Andrew Miller, who's one of the better relievers in all of baseball, who would pitch in the fifth if you asked him to, the fourth. He's just a special type guy.

Q. There used to be resistance to that because you hear guys say they want to roll. They want to have a chance to expect when they could come in. Do you have a better sense of this group or a good enough sense of this group already to know that they would be open to doing whatever and breaking free from his old role?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: From what I've heard of them from other people, from talking to the players and their desire to win, I do get that feeling. I can never speak for anybody, but that's a feeling I get when I talk to this excited group of players. There's not a lot of selfishness going on, and they just want to win. They'll do whatever it takes to win.

Q. In your past -- I don't know how much backfield down in Spring Training you wanted to get to, how much you actually enjoyed that. Can you as a manager still find yourself wandering around those areas to sort of get excited?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah. I think that's the exciting part of it. Once you're out on the field and getting to see whatever it is you're working on that day. That's what I'm looking forward to the most. Yeah, I'll definitely be there.

Q. But seeing young guys work the backfields, it almost seems like, as a manager, you might not -- when you're out in your own time, you might not do that as much. But that's something you want to carve out time for?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Absolutely. I think everyone on your roster is going to help you win at some point. They need to know that that work on the backfield, even if you're a young guy, is very important, so I'll definitely pay attention to it.

Q. Of all the guys you played for, Buck Showalter in Texas, he's managed like four other managers in the big leagues right now. Is there anything you've learned from him that you're taking into your job now?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, how prepared Buck was, how organized he was. I mean, he had countdown clocks in Spring Training to the first pitch of the season, counting down to the second. He cared about his players. He communicated with his players. He made sure he was around. He didn't just sit in his office. I mean, I learned a ton of stuff from Buck. Even his relationships with other people in the game. If you see him during BP, he kind of moseys over. He's standing on third base behind the screen, watching BP, talking to the opposing coaches. He's a relationship person. I learned a lot from him.

Q. What's the last few weeks been like for you? Are you just getting to know who is who, who does what, where the analytics people sit? And even just like have you had a chance to talk to every player yet? Still making your way through? Or getting to know everyone in the organization?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: That's a challenge. I've probably shaken hands and reintroduced myself to many people that I've already met. Trying to stay on top of that obviously, faces, learning new faces, and names. That's been a challenge, but it's been real fun.

I've definitely reached out to every player, whether it's text, voicemail, talking on the phone. There's sometimes challenges in the off-season with people overseas and things like that, where it's hard to actually get on the phone. Those guys that I haven't talked to on the phone yet, I think there's like two or three, I'm going to get to see in person this winter. That will be really good.

I'm going to take a trip at some point to the Dominican, go to our complex, and see some guys there. So that will be a good chance to connect in that regard.

I think that the first couple weeks after I was hired, we spent trying to hire a staff. We got a great staff for the Mets. That was a great process. So that was really fun.

And then the last week and a half has been kind of laid back until we got here. I went and played golf with Terry Francona and [Indians bench coach] Brad Mills in Pebble Beach. We came in second and kind of relaxed.

And I was at home on a Tuesday for the first time since the season ended last week to see my daughter's dance class. So she was excited about that.

Q. How does the manager role compare now to your playing days? What are the modern challenges that didn't exist then?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: You know, I think that the accessibility to information. When I was first playing, and I just -- the pitching coach said that, so I'm going to do it. I think now you have to realize that, as a coach, if you say something to a player, they're going to go look it up right away. They have instant access to information. You better know what you're talking about, and you had better put a lot of forethought into that. So that's the biggest difference.

I try to do that, and over time, when you tell people something and they go double-check it and you put some forethought into it, they start to understand that you're not just speaking and reacting, that you're prepared going in with the things you're going to give them.

Q. For the role you describe, it's part White House press secretary and analytics stuff and massaging personalities, all that stuff. Does that kind of contribute to a higher burnout rate? There's not a lot of longevity in this job, especially of late.

MICKEY CALLAWAY: You know, I think that passion for baseball probably counteracts that and what we do. Obviously, you have obligations and things that you have to do as a manager. You just embrace every second. I just kind of live in the moment and have -- I'm going to just kind of be honest with everybody every day and go about my business. I love the game of baseball and thinking about it and thinking about leadership. So I think that will -- and a lot of coffee. I get up real early and drink tons of coffee. I don't think I'm going to burn out unless I have a heart attack or something, like Tito.

Q. Do you think the fact now that relievers are getting paid on bases other than saves now, looking at the whole picture, that makes it a lot easier to make the move you're talking about. Five, ten years ago, this would have been like blasphemy. The fact that guys are going to get their number now regardless of the number of saves.

MICKEY CALLAWAY: They should. When you're using them in a high leverage situation, that is the save. The save that night is the highest leverage situation. If you were just using analytics, you could close anybody with a three-run lead and you've got a 96 percent chance of winning the game, any of your relievers. So guys that pitch in high leverage situations that are willing to get paid, and that's what's happening, and I think it's great.

Q. Have you started to think about messaging? I don't know if rules are the right way to put it anymore, but how you want to address it and how you want that clubhouse to feel the minute you break out of Florida? What you want the room to feel like, how you get that message out really early in Spring Training.

MICKEY CALLAWAY: I think a lot about that. Every night I go to bed, think about that. I'm having a meeting with some folks tonight to talk about how we want to approach that. The bottom line is the players are going to have a lot of say in what we expect on a daily basis because you can't create a good culture without that.

I think that we're going to get feedback from everybody on what is expected of us, the way we play the game. The way we arrive at the field. The way we show up for stretch. We're going to be able to create a set of expectations, or whatever you want to call them, that are going to be enforced by not only the staff but the players themselves.

And when you get players doing that, you have something special -- and valuing that and policing themselves. That's how you win.

Q. Do you believe in captaincy? Do you sort of like the idea?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: I think everybody's a captain. I think that, if the veteran's not doing what is expected in a culture, that the youngest guy should be able to say something. And if you really create that family and that culture, then anybody can bring any issue up, and it should be taken the right way and adjusted.

Q. It's now 100 pitches have become kind of a demarcation line when pitchers get pulled. You talk about making those decisions. How do you reconcile with the two, the front office that says, hey, it shows when a guy throws 100 pitches, the production really diminishes?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, you have to look at that type of information. Everybody's different -- 120 pitches for Trevor Bauer is much different than anybody else. It's going to be the individual.

Have we prepared and looked and see what does this guy's stuff do? We're going to be monitoring guys' stuff in real time throughout the game. So it's not necessarily just at 100 pitches or 90 pitches. We're going to know if his arm slot's dropping and things like that in realtime hopefully.

Q. And you've advocated doing more throws, which is something we've seen less of. What's that based on?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: A lot of research and data, things that I've done myself with other people. Things I've read about. You have to condition yourself to do something. Rest isn't always the best thing, especially if you haven't conditioned yourself the right way to go out there and deal with the rigors of throwing 200 innings and 115 pitches a game.

We're going to condition guys to be able to do that, and then we'll rest and recover in between those good workouts.

Q. Mickey, you've talked a lot about analytics information. So in your exploration of that, is there one idea that you've taken from that that maybe changed the way you viewed something in the game? You saw it one way as a player, and now that you've been exposed to this stuff, it's maybe changed your view on it?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: Yeah, I think probably the biggest thing is, when you're a player and you've faced somebody four times -- and I guess what I'm talking about is small sample sizes versus like a three-year look in those analytical numbers. And you've gone 3-for-4 off of this guy -- let me put it this way: In my debut, I hadn't hit since high school, and I went 2-for-3 off of Dustin Hermanson. So does that mean, when I come up as a pitcher the next time, that Dustin Hermanson shouldn't stay in and strike me out, which he would have done? I think that small sample sizes that's become very clear to me that you can't put too much stock in that.

Q. [Shohei] Ohtani went to the American League, so you guys might not be able to face as much. In your opinion, do you think it's possible to stay as a two-way player in the Major League level?

MICKEY CALLAWAY: We're going to find out. I think he probably has the talent to do it from what I've heard. You might see different things in the big leagues than you've ever seen, maybe a six-man rotation. I don't know. We'll see. You might.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets

Unique experiences up for bid in WM Auction

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Mets saw firsthand this year how impactful Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings Auction can be. Founded more than half a decade ago, the event last year benefited the family of late Mets staffer Shannon Forde, whose hometown of Little Ferry, N.J., received a brand new softball complex in her name. Various luminaries, including Mets players past and present, made the trip to New Jersey last June to attend the field's dedication.

"It's sort of surreal," Forde's sister, Alicia Dalton Reilly said. "I knew the impact she had on people. I knew everybody loved her. I just never realized how far it reached."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Mets saw firsthand this year how impactful Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings Auction can be. Founded more than half a decade ago, the event last year benefited the family of late Mets staffer Shannon Forde, whose hometown of Little Ferry, N.J., received a brand new softball complex in her name. Various luminaries, including Mets players past and present, made the trip to New Jersey last June to attend the field's dedication.

"It's sort of surreal," Forde's sister, Alicia Dalton Reilly said. "I knew the impact she had on people. I knew everybody loved her. I just never realized how far it reached."

Winter Meetings Auction

The funding came exclusively out of MLB's Winter Meetings Auction, which this year will benefit a new scholarship fund in the name of late MLB executive Katy Feeney. The scholarship will go to a student studying sports management at the University of San Francisco.

Now live at MLB.com/wintermeetingsauction, this year's event includes the following Mets items:

• A dinner with SNY broadcasters Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling at Citi Field, as well as a tour of SNY's new studios in downtown Manhattan

• The opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field, deliver the lineup card to home plate with manager Mickey Callaway, attend Callaway's pregame and postgame news conference, and watch the game from the press box and photo booth

• A tour of the Mets Hall of Fame with John Franco and Mookie Wilson

All three items also include tickets to a Mets game at Citi Field, with proceeds going directly to the Katharine Feeney Memorial Scholarship Fund. Feeney, who will also be recognized at the Baseball Writers' Association of America's annual New York chapter dinner in January, had a career in baseball that spanned four decades.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets

Mets won't overpay, overcommit for 'pen help

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A sluggish few weeks of free-agent signings received a jolt Sunday, when those filing into the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel for the start of the Winter Meetings learned that relievers Brandon Morrow and Luke Gregerson had reportedly agreed to deals with the Cubs and the Cardinals, respectively.

The Mets, who for weeks have trumpeted relief pitching as their most significant need, did not follow suit with a move of their own. Instead, general manager Sandy Alderson tempered expectations that his team will make a significant bullpen splash.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A sluggish few weeks of free-agent signings received a jolt Sunday, when those filing into the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel for the start of the Winter Meetings learned that relievers Brandon Morrow and Luke Gregerson had reportedly agreed to deals with the Cubs and the Cardinals, respectively.

The Mets, who for weeks have trumpeted relief pitching as their most significant need, did not follow suit with a move of their own. Instead, general manager Sandy Alderson tempered expectations that his team will make a significant bullpen splash.

Hot Stove Tracker

"We think there are some values out there," Alderson said. "And to the extent that the market gets overheated, I don't think that we'll jump into the inferno."

Alderson did not specify what constitutes an "inferno," only that there is a "cut line" for reliever contracts that he will not pass. Morrow, one of the top setup men available on the market, and Gregerson both reportedly received two-year deals. The Mets, under Alderson, have typically hesitated to give multiyear deals to relievers. (Exceptions such as D.J. Carrasco and Frank Francisco have tended to vindicate that philosophy with their struggles.)

"You have to recognize that bullpens are a more critical part of the overall success of teams than they were 10 or 15 years ago," Alderson said. "On the other hand, that doesn't mean you have to chase relief pitchers, and overpay or overcommit."

Overpaying and overcommitting are not things the Mets plan to do much of this offseason. To that end, Alderson explained Sunday why the Mets never pursued reigning National League MVP Award winner Giancarlo Stanton, whom the Marlins recently traded to the Yankees, saying, "With Brandon Nimmo in right field, we just felt like we didn't have a need there."

The implication was clear: The Mets, who only have about $30 million to spend this offseason, could ill afford to dump all of it on an outfielder, with more pressing needs at second base and in the bullpen.

Video: NYM@PHI: Familia fans Rupp to earn the save

In relaying his thinking, Alderson noted that the Mets feature a sturdy back half of their bullpen already, with Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins penciled in as the core. A year ago at this time, they felt confident in just Addison Reed and Familia, who was facing a likely suspension.

Despite Sunday's signings, plenty of relievers still remain on the open market, including Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Reed and Bryan Shaw. But the Mets have shown no indications that they will make the type of splash required to land the former two pitchers, both of whom are premier closers. And they should face plenty of competition for the others from teams with larger budgets.

Still, Alderson preached patience in the Mets' bullpen search.

"We're in a much better position as we stand here today than we were last year at this time," he said. "So we're not going to chase players. There are a lot of guys out there."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets

FA signings at '13 Meetings helped rising Mets

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- Heading into the 2013 Winter Meetings, the Mets were coming off consecutive 88-loss seasons. They had not sniffed second place in the National League East since '08, which also happened to be the last time they were involved in a serious postseason race.

They had spent years worrying about payroll and passed quiet offseasons making moves at the margins, as the specter of Bernie Madoff loomed over the franchise.

NEW YORK -- Heading into the 2013 Winter Meetings, the Mets were coming off consecutive 88-loss seasons. They had not sniffed second place in the National League East since '08, which also happened to be the last time they were involved in a serious postseason race.

They had spent years worrying about payroll and passed quiet offseasons making moves at the margins, as the specter of Bernie Madoff loomed over the franchise.

Hot Stove Tracker

First, the Mets finalized a four-year, $60 million deal with outfielder Curtis Granderson, the most lucrative free-agent signing they secured in three years. Then, they inked Bartolo Colon to a two-year, $2 million contract, adding legitimacy to their claims of the dawn of a new era.

Those signings came a month after the Mets agreed with another free agent, Chris Young, to a $7.25 million deal, marking one of the Mets' most active offseasons in recent memory.

"It was what we had to do," chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said after Granderson's signing. "It was something that we wanted to do. It fit well with the plan. It's a commitment on our part to have him around. [Granderson] wanted to be around to see the team turn the corner and be part of it moving forward. I think he was the best fit for us."

While not quite as impactful, the signings recalled the Mets' most dramatic Winter Meetings splash ever, when they sealed a deal for catcher Gary Carter at the 1984 Meetings in Houston. At the time, the Mets were a team on the rise, improving to a 98-win club in '85, then a 108-win team that won the World Series in '86.

With Granderson and Colon in tow, the Mets likewise bumped up to second place with a 79-win season in 2014, then to 90 wins, a division title and a World Series berth in '15.

Video: WS2015 Gm5: Statcast™ looks at Granderson's home run

"I can't be more excited or more proud to wear the orange and blue," David Wright, who finalized his own $138 million deal at the 2012 Winter Meetings, said after the division clincher. "I bleed orange and blue. To be able to celebrate with these fans, this city, this team, is a privilege."

This year's Meetings may not be as dramatic for the Mets, but they are still likely to include one or more major signings. The team plans to be aggressive in the relief market, hoping to ink at least one premier setup man in the coming weeks. General manager Sandy Alderson's front office is also shopping around for a second baseman and first base/outfield hybrid.

Unlike in 2013, this isn't the dawn of a new era; the Mets are primed to win now, and have been for some time. But they still need to add plenty of pieces. As in '13, at least some of them are likely to come at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets

Flashback to Mets' acquisition of Gary Carter

From 1974 to 1984, the Montreal Expos enjoyed having Gary Carter, a slugging catcher and tremendous defensive backstop, suit up for them every day. During that span, Carter made seven NL All-Star teams, won three Gold Glove Awards and hit a bunch of dingers. He was a star. 

Mets bring merry thoughts on '18 to holiday party

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- Given their budget, the Mets are not primed to make baseball's biggest Hot Stove splashes this season. They will acquire multiple players, with a focus on bullpen help. But the team that reports to Port St. Lucie, Fla., in February is bound to look similar to the one that parted ways last October.

To improve, the Mets are looking to other areas. One is new manager Mickey Callaway and his staff, whom the Mets hope will help change the culture in Flushing. Another is the club's focus on new-age medical and training philosophies, which several players discussed Thursday at the Mets' annual holiday party for children from local schools.

NEW YORK -- Given their budget, the Mets are not primed to make baseball's biggest Hot Stove splashes this season. They will acquire multiple players, with a focus on bullpen help. But the team that reports to Port St. Lucie, Fla., in February is bound to look similar to the one that parted ways last October.

To improve, the Mets are looking to other areas. One is new manager Mickey Callaway and his staff, whom the Mets hope will help change the culture in Flushing. Another is the club's focus on new-age medical and training philosophies, which several players discussed Thursday at the Mets' annual holiday party for children from local schools.

Video: Syndergaard looking forward to working with Callaway

"I think we're all really excited," starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard said. "We're all really pushing for one another to stay healthy throughout the entire year. We're all looking forward to that."

Syndergaard, who met Callaway recently at a Knicks game, has revamped his personal training methods since missing four months of last season due to a torn right lat. Working with an independent trainer this offseason, Syndergaard is "still lifting heavy, but smarter," in his words, avoiding lat-based exercises such as pull-ups, and even training briefly with the Canadian Olympic sprint coach. His goal is "to become a more well-rounded athlete," rather than to focus on power before all else.

Tweet from @Mets: Kevin Plawecki, @jerryblevins, @You_Found_Nimmo and @noahsyndergaard took part in our annual Kids Holiday Party. #MetsGiving📸: https://t.co/S14iNig9yI pic.twitter.com/PbvZNMiMDz

"It's different," Syndergaard said. "It's still taxing workouts. But my body has never felt better."

He and others have already talked to new pitching coach Dave Eiland, who has his own ideas about how to improve the club. The team also has plans to hire both a new head trainer and a high-performance director to oversee the entire operation.

"It's refreshing to get somebody else's mind in there, and tactics, and what they want to do," reliever Jerry Blevins said. "We want to win, so we're excited to move forward."

For now, however, most Mets are still resting their bodies while enjoying the offseason. For Syndergaard, Blevins, Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Plawecki, that meant attending the Mets' annual holiday party Thursday at Citi Field. Nimmo dressed up as Santa, handing out presents to local children with the help of his teammates, who donned elf garb.

"It's a blast," Nimmo said. "I really enjoy doing this. I really enjoy getting personal with the kids and just talking. We're normal people and sometimes we get this kind of superhero figure around you. We just get to get down on a one-on-one level and hand out presents, and meet people who are giving back to the community and trying to make it better. We really enjoy [giving back] as well."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets

Bullpen, infield Mets' priorities at Meetings

Reliever Reed, 2B Walker could return; Lind on radar for 1B depth
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- The first five weeks of the Hot Stove season may have come and gone quietly for the Mets, but that is about to change. A team in need of multiple significant pieces is bound to spring into action soon, with the baseball industry's annual Winter Meetings providing the proper atmosphere next week in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

After trading Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson last summer, the Mets simply have too many holes to fill to stay quiet. They've spent much of the last month focusing on their managerial, coaching and training staff hires, as the player market around baseball stayed cold. It's not a silence that can last.

NEW YORK -- The first five weeks of the Hot Stove season may have come and gone quietly for the Mets, but that is about to change. A team in need of multiple significant pieces is bound to spring into action soon, with the baseball industry's annual Winter Meetings providing the proper atmosphere next week in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

After trading Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson last summer, the Mets simply have too many holes to fill to stay quiet. They've spent much of the last month focusing on their managerial, coaching and training staff hires, as the player market around baseball stayed cold. It's not a silence that can last.

Hot Stove Tracker

Here, then, is a look at what the Mets hope to accomplish at the Winter Meetings and beyond:

Club needs

Bullpen: The Mets have made this their clear top priority, and it's one they're likely to address soon. General manager Sandy Alderson's goal is to find at least one established reliever to group with Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins at the back of new manager Mickey Callaway's bullpen, and it appears he's willing to spend a sizeable portion of his budget to do so. Realistically, the Mets will shop in the second tier of free-agent relievers -- a group that includes Brandon Morrow, Bryan Shaw and Reed.

Video: NYM@SEA: Reed retires Cruz to solidify the save

Second base: Though there is a chance the Mets could pivot and acquire a third baseman instead, pushing Asdrubal Cabrera to the keystone, the team's clear preference is to fill its infield gap at second. The trade market appears riper than free agency, with Ian Kinsler among those reportedly available. But the Mets could also pursue an old friend, Walker, on the open market.

First base/outfield: Ideally, the Mets will acquire a hybrid capable of playing both these positions, such as Bruce, Logan Morrison or Adam Lind. That would cover them in the outfield in the event that Michael Conforto's recovery from shoulder surgery stalls, and at first base in case Dominic Smith's rookie struggles spill over into his sophomore season.

Video: Smith on fighting to earn job at first base in 2018

Who they can trade if necessary

The Mets do not have many trade chips available at the Major or Minor League levels. Their lack of rotation depth should prevent them from dealing Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman to fill other needs, and their selloff of veteran hitters last summer left them without much fat on their active roster. Perhaps Wilmer Flores, a valuable platoon infielder, could become expendable if the Mets acquire the right infield piece. Perhaps Smith could entice, but the Mets would be selling low on him.

On the farm, the Mets have already graduated top prospects Amed Rosario and Smith, leaving their system relatively thin. It is unlikely the Mets could make a major trade splash using just prospects.

Top prospects

Per MLBPipeline.com, the Mets' top prospects are left-hander David Peterson, right-hander Justin Dunn, shortstop Andres Gimenez, left-hander Thomas Szapucki, outfielder Desmond Lindsay, right-hander Marcos Molina, first baseman Peter Alonso, infielder Gavin Cecchini, catcher Tomas Nido and third baseman Mark Vientos.

Of that group, only Cecchini and Nido are likely to play significant roles in 2018. Gimenez, who is just 19, shot up the prospect ranks this year and boasts a high ceiling. Peterson, the Mets' first-round Draft pick in June, is about to enter his first full professional season.

Video: NYM@PHI: Cecchini makes a tough scoop to rob Herrera

Rule 5 Draft

The Mets have selected and kept just one Rule 5 selection, Sean Gilmartin, since 2010. That trend isn't likely to change now, with a jammed 40-man roster and a crowded bullpen.

Big contracts they might unload

The only guaranteed contracts on New York's books are those of David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Cabrera, Juan Lagares and Blevins. Of that group, only Lagares stands even the slightest chance of being traded, and that's unlikely given the Mets' uncertainty in center field.

Payroll summary

The Mets opened last season north of $155 million, a number that Alderson has expressed a desire to stay below this offseason. But the GM hinted that he convinced ownership to overspend its budget last offseason, with a promise to unload salary if things went south. When they did, Alderson kept his promise, which could earn him enough trust to make a similar bargain this offseason.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets

The Mets held court during Facebook Live chat

Thursday morning, Noah Syndergaard, Jerry Blevins, Kevin Plawecki and Brandon Nimmo held court in the Mets clubhouse for a Facebook Live hangout with fans.

The session began with some current events as Nimmo recounted his offseason wedding and his honeymoon in Maui, Hawaii. As fate would have it, Nimmo ran into Travis d'Arnaud -- who was also honeymooning in Maui -- and the two Mets couples joined together for a romantic breakfast and a snorkeling excursion.

Inbox: What is Mets' biggest offseason need?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers questions from fans
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

With the Winter Meetings now less than a week away, there's a sense within the baseball industry that trades and signings are about to heat up. The Rangers made a major move late Monday, according to sources, signing left-hander Mike Minor -- a potential Mets target -- away from the Royals. Other dominos are sure to follow.

To tide you over until the Mets make their first major move of the offseason, here's a new batch of questions and answers:

With the Winter Meetings now less than a week away, there's a sense within the baseball industry that trades and signings are about to heat up. The Rangers made a major move late Monday, according to sources, signing left-hander Mike Minor -- a potential Mets target -- away from the Royals. Other dominos are sure to follow.

To tide you over until the Mets make their first major move of the offseason, here's a new batch of questions and answers:

Hot Stove Tracker

What does general manager Sandy Alderson see as this team's biggest hole to fill?
-- @wa2k_1999 via Twitter

It's relief pitching and it's not close. Though the Mets plan to acquire -- at the least -- a second baseman and a first base/outfield hybrid this offseason, they have made their clear focus relief pitching. The Mets aim to acquire at least one reliever in a second tier of free agents that includes Bryan Shaw, Brandon Morrow, Addison Reed and others. There's enough inventory out there to think they'll succeed.

Adding one of those pitchers to a back-end mix that already includes Jeurys Familia and Jerry Blevins will fortify what was a weakness for the Mets last season.

Me personally? I don't think they should stop there. I would acquire a starting pitcher on a one- or two-year deal -- such as a Jason Vargas or CC Sabathia type -- to provide insurance in the event that Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and others miss time due to injury. Acquiring a starter would also allow the Mets to bump Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman to the bullpen, where they could be ultra-valuable in swingman roles.

But given the constraints of a limited budget, it appears unlikely the Mets will go down that path. They are looking to relief pitching more than anything as a panacea for this roster.

:: Submit a question to the Mets Inbox ::

Would the Mets be open to acquiring a third baseman, or is it definitely Asdrubal Cabrera's job?
-- @j_nucero via Twitter

Right now, it's Cabrera's job, as the Mets look mostly at second-base options. There's still a chance they could find a deal on a third baseman and pivot at that time, pushing Cabrera over to the keystone. But the Mets' clear preference is to have Cabrera play third.

How's it possible any player who's arbitration-eligible argues to get a raise when they had a Matt Harvey -like season?
-- @cm3vet via Twitter

Simply put, baseball's strategy structure, which offers little leverage to players with less than three years of service time, tilts more in their favor once they reach arbitration. That's the give and take of MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement. The mechanics of the arbitration system make it very difficult not to earn raises from year to year.

Is Noah Syndergaard going to be making his own medical decisions in 2018 again?
-- @kellyawallace via Twitter

I suspect this question was asked tongue-in-cheek, but it's a symptom of a greater issue that, for the first time in a long time, the Mets are addressing. The team dismissed trainer Ray Ramirez in October and, while you can certainly argue that Ramirez was far from the root of the problem, it's the most public move the Mets have made in this department since hiring the controversial Mike Barwis to oversee their training operations in 2014.

The Mets are not done. They won't replace Ramirez until they first hire what they're calling a "high performance director" to oversee all aspects of the team's conditioning -- from strength training to nutrition, cardiovascular work, even sleep. That person will have input in the hiring process for a trainer and for any additional positions the Mets see fit.

Is that enough to keep the Mets healthy? Time will tell. Barwis has earned his share of criticism in the past, as have various other links on the chain of command, mostly for communication issues. But the Mets are making real change to their process this offseason. We'll see how much effect it winds up having.

Will Mets-affiliated Hall of Fame voters rally around Johan Santana?
-- @HofJohan via Twitter

First things first: Writers should show no bias toward or against players they cover when voting for the Hall of Fame.

Now that that's out of the way, let's examine Santana's case objectively. One of baseball's best pitchers from 2002 through his first shoulder surgery in '10, Santana finished his career 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA, winning two Cy Young Awards and finishing in the top seven six times. He threw a no-hitter.

It was a spectacular peak, but probably not long enough for most Hall voters to recognize. Compare Santana's stat line to those of Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling, who have both struggled to earn votes from more than half the electorate. Both Mussina and Schilling won significantly more games than Santana, which, while not my cup of tea, remains important among a representative percentage of the voting bloc. Santana edges both in ERA and adjusted ERA, which factors in ballparks and league conditions. But he has roughly 1,000 fewer strikeouts than both Mussina and Schilling. Again, his lack of longevity hurts him.

Though Santana appeared in four postseasons, he went 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA overall -- numbers that can't prop up his candidacy the way they can for Schilling or even Mussina.

If you look at Santana's peak alone, he's a clear Hall of Famer. But most voters take both peak and longevity into account, which would make Santana, statistically, a below-average Hall of Famer. Add in the fact that the ballot is already overloaded with worthy candidates, and I just don't see it happening. Santana will score a few votes here and there, but I doubt he'll ever make real noise on the ballot.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets

Nimmo, d'Arnaud ran into each other in Hawaii

For eight months, Mets players Brandon Nimmo and Travis d'Arnaud spent much of their time together, both in Spring Training and throughout the baseball season. They discussed their impending weddings, both set to take place on the same weekend in November. Then they parted ways for the winter -- or so Nimmo thought.

Weeks later, the Mets outfielder walked to the breakfast buffet at a hotel in Maui only to see his teammate standing right there.

MLB Pipeline's Top 50 Draft prospects for 2018

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

For the first time in three years, the top spot on MLBPipeline.com's early Draft Top 50 list is not occupied by a high school pitcher. It should come as no surprise that the top guy is still a pitcher, and one from the 2017 College World Series champion Florida Gators. Right-hander Brady Singer, who helped pitch them to that title as a sophomore, is the clear choice as the best overall talent in the 2018 Draft class, which some think could be the best since 2011.

It's nothing new to see one of Florida's starting pitchers head into a new season as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Lefty A.J. Puk was No. 2 on the 2016 list behind high school left-hander Jay Groome. He ended up going No. 6 overall that June. A year ago, Gators right-hander Alex Faedo came in at No. 4 on the Top 50 led by prep phenom Hunter Greene. He ended up going No. 18 overall to the Tigers, who have the No. 1 pick in 2018. While Puk and Faedo were obviously highly regarded, scouts do feel Singer's all-around game on the mound gives him a better chance to stay in that 1-1 conversation.

For the first time in three years, the top spot on MLBPipeline.com's early Draft Top 50 list is not occupied by a high school pitcher. It should come as no surprise that the top guy is still a pitcher, and one from the 2017 College World Series champion Florida Gators. Right-hander Brady Singer, who helped pitch them to that title as a sophomore, is the clear choice as the best overall talent in the 2018 Draft class, which some think could be the best since 2011.

It's nothing new to see one of Florida's starting pitchers head into a new season as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Lefty A.J. Puk was No. 2 on the 2016 list behind high school left-hander Jay Groome. He ended up going No. 6 overall that June. A year ago, Gators right-hander Alex Faedo came in at No. 4 on the Top 50 led by prep phenom Hunter Greene. He ended up going No. 18 overall to the Tigers, who have the No. 1 pick in 2018. While Puk and Faedo were obviously highly regarded, scouts do feel Singer's all-around game on the mound gives him a better chance to stay in that 1-1 conversation.

Top Draft Prospects

"There's less things that can go wrong," one National League scouting director said. "I can't see him coming out and 'laying an egg,' so to speak. He's a little more of a pitcher, when they were more power guys."

While the list doesn't have a high schooler at No. 1, it does have a ton of high-end prep pitching on it, starting at No. 2 with Ethan Hankins. The Atlanta area standout had a very impressive summer and is armed with the best fastball in the Top 50. He might not be atop the list, but that doesn't mean he doesn't belong in the same class as Groome and Greene, who went No. 12 and No. 2 in their respective Drafts.

"He's right up there," the scouting director said. "He's very, very impressive. He has size, strength and stuff. What Hunter had over him, he could do it as a position player, so you knew that when he gives that up, there might be more to come. But he's right up there with the better high school kids I've seen in the last couple of years."

2018 Draft order | 2018 Draft: June 4-6 | All-time Draft picks

The top high school bat comes in at No. 4 on the list in the form of Phoenix-area infielder Nolan Gorman. His raw power was on display for much of the summer as he stood out in multiple elite-level home run derbies, with the ability to drive the ball also showing up in games. Nick Madrigal is the top college position player on the list, coming in at No. 11. He's undersized, but that doesn't seem to matter as much these days, and the Oregon State infielder has a strong track record and perhaps the best hit tool in the class.

Video: Draft Report: Nick Madrigal, College 2B/SS

College hitters are often hard to come by, especially this early, but scouts are encouraged that there seems to be more advanced bats to consider in the first round than usual. Given that college performers tend to float up as the Draft nears, seeing Madrigal or some of the others on this Top 50 land in the top 10 seems very feasible.

"I think I like the list this year more than last year," the scouting director said. "I like the depth. There's college pitching, if you're at the top. I think there are some college position players. Who were the college players last year at the top? There's very good high school pitching. I think it's deeper all the way around."

Class breakdown

It's a fairly even split in this year's Top 50, with 26 high schoolers and 24 from the college ranks. It's split right down the middle at the top, with the top 10 filled with five college players and five prepsters. While it is pitching heavy at the top, with seven of the top 10 on the mound, there are more bats to be found later on. That speaks to the aforementioned depth. There might not be a college bat in the top 10, but there are five in the 11-20 range -- led by Madrigal at No. 11 -- and no one would be surprised to see some of them end up in the top 10 once the Draft rolls around.

In total, there are a dozen college hitters in the Top 50, up from eight a year ago. The 12 college pitchers on the list, five in the top 10, is down a touch from 15 on our 2017 Top 50. Of the 26 high schoolers, half are pitchers. High school right-handers are a particular strength in this class, with 11 in this Top 50. The complete positional breakdown of this list is as a follows:

RHP: 18
OF: 11
LHP: 7
SS: 4
1B: 3
3B: 3
C: 3
2B: 1

Top tools

All players, as always, are given grades on the 20-to-80 scouting scale for all tools or pitches. These are future grades, a reflection of what the scouting industry thinks each of these amateur players can become in the future. Here are the top grades for each tool and pitch.

Position players
Hit: 60 - Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Oregon State, Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
Power: 60 - Nolan Gorman, O'Connor HS (Phoenix)
Run: 70 - Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek, Fla.), Connor Scott, OF, Plant HS (Tampa, Fla.)
Arm: 70 - Joe Gray Jr., OF, Hatiesburg (Miss.) HS, Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS (Snellville, Ga.)
Field: 60 - Mike Siani, OF, William Penn Charter (Philadelphia), Alek Thomas, OF, Mount Carmel HS (Chicago)

Pitchers
Fastball: 80 - Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS (Cumming, Ga.)
Curveball: 65 - Tim Cate, LHP, Connecticut
Slider: 65 - Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
Changeup: 65 - Steven Gingery, LHP, Texas Tech
Control: 60 - Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mets tender contracts to 9, including Harvey

Right-hander looks to rediscover form under Callaway, Eiland
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- It may be impossible to predict what Matt Harvey will do in 2018, save for this: whatever he does, Harvey will do it for the Mets. The club tendered all nine of its arbitration-eligible players contracts on Friday, including Harvey, who is coming off his worst season as a professional.

The Mets also tendered contracts to starting pitchers Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, relievers Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Hansel Robles, catcher Travis d'Arnaud and infielder Wilmer Flores. Combined, those players are projected to make more than $51 million through arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, or more than a third of the club's payroll. Harvey alone is projected to make $5.9 million.

NEW YORK -- It may be impossible to predict what Matt Harvey will do in 2018, save for this: whatever he does, Harvey will do it for the Mets. The club tendered all nine of its arbitration-eligible players contracts on Friday, including Harvey, who is coming off his worst season as a professional.

The Mets also tendered contracts to starting pitchers Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, relievers Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Hansel Robles, catcher Travis d'Arnaud and infielder Wilmer Flores. Combined, those players are projected to make more than $51 million through arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, or more than a third of the club's payroll. Harvey alone is projected to make $5.9 million.

Hot Stove Tracker

Over the coming weeks, the Mets will exchange salary figures with all of their arbitration-eligible players. Those who do not agree to terms will go to hearing with an independent arbiter to determine their 2018 salaries.

Given the kind of money at stake, it is imperative that the Mets receive production out of that group -- particularly Harvey, who went 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA in 18 starts and one relief appearance last season. Harvey has struggled since the start of 2016, when numbness in his arm led to a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome and, eventually, surgery to remove a rib. After pitching to a 5.25 ERA in his first 13 starts this year, Harvey landed on the disabled list due to shoulder weakness. He returned in September, posting an 11.28 ERA in six outings.

Video: NYM@ATL: Harvey tosses five scoreless innings

Still, the Mets are optimistic given Harvey's uptick in velocity down the stretch, when he regularly reached 96 mph. The organizational belief is that an offseason of rest, followed by work with new manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland, will allow Harvey to rediscover his form -- and particularly his command -- as a successful pitcher.

"It's hard to project anything based on the numbers, with the kind of track record and where he's coming from," Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said this week. "This offseason, it's all about keeping him healthy, getting him strong, getting him both mentally and physically in a good place heading into Spring Training. A lot of that's physical. A lot of that's also conversations with both Mickey and Dave. And then if you have a healthy Matt Harvey a couple years removed from the surgery, and you pair him with a couple of pitching guys who have pretty good track records, I think we're really optimistic about what he can do."

Prior to 2016, Harvey was one of the best pitchers in baseball, going 25-18 with a 2.53 ERA in 65 starts. He underwent Tommy John surgery in '13, returning two years later to guide the Mets to their first World Series in 15 years.

Said Callaway last month: "We don't need the Dark Knight. We need Matt Harvey to be Matt Harvey on a daily basis, and be comfortable with who he is."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets, Matt Harvey

Rosario hoping for Reyes' return to Mets

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- Nearly every day since season's end, Amed Rosario has spoken to Jose Reyes. The two text frequently about baseball and life.

Perhaps no one is more interested in having Reyes return to the Mets than Rosario, his protégé, who spent countless hours alongside him this year during Spring Training, August and September.

NEW YORK -- Nearly every day since season's end, Amed Rosario has spoken to Jose Reyes. The two text frequently about baseball and life.

Perhaps no one is more interested in having Reyes return to the Mets than Rosario, his protégé, who spent countless hours alongside him this year during Spring Training, August and September.

Hot Stove Tracker

"Of course it would be important if he was around," Rosario said Wednesday after participating in a Target shopping spree for underprivileged children in Elmhurst, Queens. "It's not just for me, but I think for the whole team. He's just a guy that brings a lot of energy."

Video: Rosario, Smith attend Mets Holiday Shopping Spree

As a Dominican shortstop, Rosario grew up idolizing Reyes. The two first met extensively when Rosario was at Double-A Binghamton last season, and Reyes spent time there working back into game shape during a suspension.

This spring, Reyes and Rosario logged significant hours together in Port St. Lucie, Fla. They became inseparable following Rosario's Aug. 1 promotion to the big leagues.

But now that the Mets consider Rosario their everyday shortstop, they have less need for Reyes, a former batting champion who hit .246 with 15 homers and 24 steals in his age-34 season. The Mets already employ several players capable of backing up shortstop, including Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt Reynolds.

Still, Reyes has been insistent for months that he wants to end his career with the Mets, going as far as to intimate he would take less money to stay in New York. Mets officials have likewise acknowledged that a reunion is possible. Now entering his age-35 season, Reyes would not be an expensive line item on New York's budget. He lives most of the year on Long Island.

He also has an important ally in Rosario, who called Reyes' energy "just so important" to the Mets.

While general manager Sandy Alderson and lieutenants debate that move, Rosario is busying himself trying to improve upon the skill set that saw him hit .248 with four home runs and seven steals as a 21-year-old rookie. In particular, Rosario hopes to shrink his strike zone after walking just three times in his first 170 big league plate appearances.

"Just making the adjustments," Rosario said, "that's probably the biggest thing coming to the big leagues."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets