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What's next on Mets' Hot Stove to-do list?

Club's focus likely on bullpen, shortstop depth before Spring Training
January 10, 2019

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has spoken repeatedly this offseason about his desire to eliminate "ifs." Thursday's agreement with Jed Lowrie, according to a source, marked a big step in doing exactly that.The versatile infielder -- who still must pass a physical before his two-year, $20 million deal can

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has spoken repeatedly this offseason about his desire to eliminate "ifs." Thursday's agreement with Jed Lowrie, according to a source, marked a big step in doing exactly that.
The versatile infielder -- who still must pass a physical before his two-year, $20 million deal can become official -- has played all four infield positions during his 11-year career, so while he might not have a permanent position to call his own, Lowrie provides manager Mickey Callaway with a very useful Swiss Army knife for his roster.
So while the natural reaction to the signing of the 34-year-old switch-hitter might have been to assume that Robinson Cano might be trading in his infielder's glove for a first baseman's mitt, that doesn't appear to be the Mets' intention.
With 36-year-old Cano at second base, 32-year-old Todd Frazier at third and first base looking like a spring battle between 23-year-old Dominic Smith and unproven rookie Peter Alonso, adding a player with the capability to play all three spots will give Callaway a plethora of options. Whether it's a matchup situation or simply wanting to give a veteran a rest, Callaway will have a number of players at his disposal.
That is, of course, assuming all of those players are still on the roster by the time pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie, Fla. Another big "if."

Van Wagenen has proven himself to be an aggressive general manager during his first few months on the job, so you would have to think he's dangling Frazier, Jeff McNeil and possibly even Alonso to see if he can add another relief pitcher without shelling out more money on the free-agent market. Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia are a stellar 1-2 combo at the back end of the bullpen, but the Mets lack depth in the relief corps and they are likely to address that area in the weeks leading up to Spring Training.
The rotation features Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, while Jason Vargas is expected to fill the No. 5 spot. The Mets could very well try to add rotation depth before camp opens, though it's unlikely they would bring in anybody to challenge for a starting spot.
As for the offense, the Lowrie signing added another player into an infield mix that includes Alonso, Smith, Cano, Amed Rosario, Frazier, Lowrie, McNeil and youngster J.D. Davis, who was acquired from the Astros last week. Eight infielders would appear to be two or three too many, so the likelihood of Van Wagenen pulling at least one more trade seems likely.

Perhaps a swap of Frazier and his $9 million salary for a reliever with a bulky contract could be the answer. Maybe the Mets can move McNeil for a young reliever. There should be options for Van Wagenen, who has proven that there's nothing he won't at least consider.
Even with all of those infielders, the Mets still lack a legitimate backup for Rosario at shortstop, a position Lowrie has played for only three innings in the past three years, all in 2016, so finding another option there might also be in the cards.
Despite all the talk about adding a big outfield bat, a source said it's far-fetched to imagine the Mets would bring in a player such as A.J. Pollock, who has been a rumored target at different points in the offseason. Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton make up the current outfield, though some of the infielders -- McNeil, in particular -- could find themselves filling in some gaps in the outfield, too.
Marwin Gonzalez could have been the answer in both the infield and outfield, but the price tag for the switch-hitter would likely have been far higher than the $20 million the Mets paid Lowrie, who is five years older than Gonzalez.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.