Welcome back to the Mets Beat newsletter! Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007, including the past 13 seasons full-time on the beat.
It’s the middle of November, which means it’s time to visit the rumor mill with an open mind.
First, a primer: The Hot Stove figures to be extra colorful this winter in Queens, since the Mets will be one of baseball’s most active teams. Realistically, they will check in with every prominent agent in the game. They will talk to the majority of their rivals about possible trades. They will discuss almost every free agent pitcher on the market. So don’t take any singular rumor too seriously.
There are, however, a few reports worth considering, including three that hint at significant themes of this Mets offseason:
The rumor: Texas is interested in Jacob deGrom
Why it matters: Let’s make one thing clear: the Mets want deGrom back. But they don’t want him back at any cost. Even multibillionaire Steve Cohen has his limits, which is why it’s reasonable to see a scenario in which another team -- say, the Rangers -- swoops in and makes an above-market offer in the hopes of landing an ace.
That’s not to say the Rangers are the favorites for deGrom; from my vantage point, the Mets remain the most likely team to sign him until proven otherwise. But Texas’ interest appears real, and it’s possible the Dodgers or other suitors will eventually join the party. This rumor is an acknowledgment that the Mets are leaving the door open for another club to outbid them. The Rangers -- with money to burn, a willingness to compete and a hole in their rotation -- are the exact type of team that could.
The rumor: The Mets are interested in Carlos Rodón and Kodai Senga
Why it matters: Because the Mets need someone to pitch for them next season, and if it’s not going to be deGrom, two other names stand out. One is Rodón, a supremely talented but oft-injured starter who owns a 2.67 ERA over 55 starts the past two seasons. The other is Senga, a 29-year-old Japanese star who is an unrestricted free agent and has been clocked at 102 mph. Either Senga or Rodón would fit the Mets’ need for a No. 2 starter behind Max Scherzer, and while neither is deGrom, it’s reasonable to believe -- given deGrom’s health concerns -- that one or both could outperform him in 2023.
The takeaway here is that the Mets aren’t thinking “deGrom or bust” in terms of pitching. While deGrom remains their preference both for competitive and sentimental reasons, alternatives do exist -- and that’s without even discussing future Hall of Famer (and this year’s American League Cy Young Award winner) Justin Verlander, who could enter the mix as well.
The rumor: Most teams are in on Brandon Nimmo
Why it matters: This one may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s almost certainly not. If you believe the hype that Aaron Judge will return to the Yankees (and only a small minority of clubs can afford Judge, anyway), then Nimmo is by far the next-best option for anyone seeking outfield help. This is the time of year for teams to check in on free agents who make sense, even if signing them is a long shot. For that reason, Nimmo is going to be a popular guy for the foreseeable future.
From the Mets’ perspective, what matters most is that the bustle of Nimmo’s market will probably delay his signing. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Nimmo wait until January to sign a contract while his agent, Scott Boras, plays teams off each other. By that point, Nimmo’s market will have thinned to a few serious bidders; the Mets figure to remain one of them throughout the process.