As Billy Eppler gears up for his first trade deadline as general manager of the Mets, one thing is clear: He has the salary flexibility from his boss to make a big splash.
It’s fair to believe the Mets will have an exciting Aug. 2 trade deadline in the same fashion they had a thrilling offseason. The underlying element that will allow the club to make major moves has remained the same. Steve Cohen and his $17.4 billion net worth, according to Forbes, is ready and willing to use his deep pockets on his beloved Mets as long as it’s an outcome that makes sense.
“One thing I’ve learned in my time with Steve so far is that he’s opportunistic,” Eppler said on Saturday at Citi Field. “So if I could take him opportunities and present the why behind it, the why that makes sense, he’s signed off on everything so far. He likes to know what the market looks like and likes to be aware of opportunities.”
As it stands, the Mets have the second-highest 2022 payroll in MLB at $260,332,242. The Dodgers are first, with a $262,397,123 payroll this year.
The Mets entered Saturday with a 3.5-game lead over the Braves in the National League East. While their hold over the division has lasted for 71 days, Atlanta has the foot on the gas and the race is tightening. In order to sustain the success the Mets have already enjoyed, they will need to make some adjustments.
As far as their immediate roster needs, Eppler did not specifically name areas that could improve. Really, he doesn’t need to. It’s easy to see the Mets need significant bullpen help, a power bat at designated hitter, and a quality starter as insurance in the event that Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer face more health issues in the second half and postseason.
“I would like to be an equal opportunity buyer,” Eppler said. “Whether that is something that helps with run prevention, great. If it helps with run production, great. Let’s try to grow those numbers as far apart as we can and be open to anything.
“I don’t want to be beholden to a shopping list, so to speak, because let’s say people thought we needed X, but Y came along and Y was so much better than X, take Y. So we’re going to look for things that are going to help on that run prevention, run production, than things that are particular.”
Keeping top prospects in the organization is another element that Cohen has committed to doing, so this trade deadline may look a little different than others in terms of giving minor-league players away. Though Eppler didn’t outright say it, expect No. 1 prospect catcher Francisco Alvarez and third baseman Brett Baty, at the very least, to remain in the organization come this August.
Just like this past winter when Eppler and his front office acquired Scherzer for $130 million over three years, expect the Mets to flex their wallet rather than their farm system.
“I think there’s a number of players that could be very difficult to wrestle away from us,” Eppler said. “I don’t like to live in absolutes, so I don’t ever say never. But it’s really hard to envision some kind of scenario where we’d consider those things.”