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Mets are aggressive on Day 1 of Winter Meetings, Yankees wait on Aaron Judge – Boston Herald



SAN DIEGO — It’s tough to glean much from Billy Eppler’s first Winter Meetings media session. Justin Verlander’s contract is still pending so the Mets general manager couldn’t say a whole lot about the club’s splashy new pitching acquisition and wouldn’t say a whole lot about where he stands in negotiations with free agent outfielder Brandon Nimmo.

Verlander and the Mets are in agreement on a two-year contract with a vesting option for a third year. The AAV is $43.33 million, which matches the AAV and the term on Max Scherzer’s contract. It’s a lot of money to commit to two pitchers on the wrong side of age 35 but short-term plans prevent the Mets from being hamstrung by high-value, long-term deals. It shouldn’t preclude the club from signing someone like Nimmo because regardless of the pitching outcomes the Mets will need an outfielder, but it’s unclear how much it could impact other areas of the roster.

“You just have to get creative in other areas and be open to doing things in the trade market if they present themselves,” Eppler said Monday afternoon at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. “Just try to see where some value can maybe present itself.”

The Mets are expected to add another pitcher, be it through free agency or a trade, in order to supplement the rotation. But don’t expect them to go after Carlos Rodon. The club is shopping for a mid-tier starter to add depth to a rotation that was significantly thinned with the departures of Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker.

Eppler emphasized being “mindful” of creating a positive run differential, noting that it can also be achieved by producing more runs. But starting pitching can be precarious and the Mets’ two frontline starters will be 39 and 40 next season, so depth has to be a priority.

“In general, you’re going to try and navigate a 162-game season, you’re going to use a lot of starters to do that, so depth is very important,” Eppler said. “It’s almost two different mindsets for the regular season, and then if you’re lucky enough to be in in the postseason or you’re playing in a shortened season that’s very meaningful. You’re trying to manage for both situations and just prepare as much as possible.”

Nimmo will be attending the meetings in San Diego this week, but Eppler would not comment on whether or not he plans to meet with Nimmo. It’s a tricky situation given that Nimmo’s agent, Scott Boras, typically likes to extend negotiations and his market could be determined by what happens with Aaron Judge.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who was re-signed to a four-year contract on Monday, said the club has made “a number of offers” to Judge and owner Hal Steinbrenner went to Tampa to meet with slugger personally. The rumored offer is eight years at $300 million but Cashman would not confirm it.

“It’s his dance card, so I don’t know,” Cashman said. “He’s a free agent and he has a chance to make decisions for him and his family. I can tell you that we are negotiating hard. Hal Steinbrenner has been very public, and privately I can tell you that Hal is putting his money where his mouth is. He told our fanbase that he would make every effort to re-sign this player. That doesn’t guarantee anything, but certainly just to restate, we would love to have our player back, we would love to continue to call him our player every step of the way”

Cashman suggested the Yankees could delve into the shortstop market if they do not re-sign Judge and they are monitoring the starting pitching market, but they would need a resolution on the Judge situation before making any offers to a marquee free agent infielder.

The Yankees do not have a sense of what Judge is thinking right now and aren’t giving the AL MVP a deadline either, which could make for a long offseason.

“You can take a position like that, but our position is that we’re trying to provide him with the time and the opportunity and the consideration to make the best decision for him and his family,” Cashman said. “So I’m not putting a timeframe on it today. I’m not putting a timeframe on it out of respect for the position he is in.”

The Mets will continue to be aggressive while the Yankees will continue to wait on Judge.

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