Eppler says Mets' lineup deep even after losing Correa
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By RONALD BLUM
NEW YORK (AP) Having failed to land Carlos Correa, Mets general manager Billy Eppler says he is satisfied with New York's offense heading into spring training.
"We have a strong and deep lineup," Eppler said Tuesday during a news conference to introduce catcher Omar Narvaez and reintroduce reliever Adam Ottavino. "I'm confident in our group's ability to score runs but, look, this goes without saying, and I think I've said in the past relating to any one of the areas of the organization: You can always be better."
Correa agreed to a $350 million, 13-year contract with the San Francisco Giants on Dec. 13. After the Giants became concerned about a 2014 ankle injury, the Mets reached a $315 million, 12-year deal on Dec. 21.
New York then had similar concerns and offered to guaranteed only $157.5 million, prompting Correa to stay with the Minnesota Twins for a $200 million, six-year contract that could be worth $270 million over a decade.
"I'm not going to go into any detail there just out of privacy reasons as well out of respect to Carlos," Eppler saId. "I'm not going to elaborate on it."
The Mets were fifth among the 30 teams in runs last season in their first season under manager Buck Showalter and second in on-base percentage. When they first reached agreement with Correa, Mets owner Steve Cohen told the New York Post: "We needed one more thing, and this is it."
Correa would have played third base for New York, which lost to San Diego in the first round of the playoffs. Eduardo Escobar remains the incumbent after hitting .240 with 20 homers and 69 RBIs. Rookie Brett Baty made his big league debut in August after Luis Guillorme got hurt, and Baty had two homers and five RBIs in in 11 games.
"These will be conversations that Buck and I'll have with the staff as kind of camp goes on," Eppler said. "I will remind people that Escobar had a really strong year last year. Brett's callup was borne out of necessity last year. ... I don't want to kind of forecast what will come at the end of March."
Ottavino, a 37-year-old right-hander, joined the Mets ahead of last season. The side-armer had a 2.06 ERA in 66 relief appearances with 79 strikeouts and 16 walks in 65 2/3 innings.
He became a free agent and returned for a $14.5 million, two-year contract. He gets a $7.75 million salary this year, of which $4 million is deferred, and the deal includes a $6.75 million player option for 2024, of which $4 million would be deferred. The deferred money wouldn't be fully paid until 2035.
"Ultimately got to a number that I thought was a little more representative of my value," Ottavino said. "Have to wait a little while to collect on all of that, but that's perfectly fine."
Narvaez agreed to a deal paying $8 million this year and that includes a $7 million player option for 2024. Narvaez, who turns 31 in February, was an All-Star in 2021 with Milwaukee before batting just .206 with four homers and 23 RBIs in 84 games for the Brewers last season.
He is looking forward to catching Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
"It is an honor to be able to behind the plate for them," Narvaez said.
The Mets are moving in the Citi Field fence for the third time, reducing right-center by 8 1/2 feet to create additional fan gathering space. The team brought in the wall by as much as 12 feet after 2011 and lowered the fence height from 16 to 8 feet in left, then brought in fences by 3 to 11 feet in front of the bullpens in right field ahead of 2015.
"While hitting a 3-pointer is cool every now and again," Eppler said, "I like contact. I like on-base. I'm kind of greedy. I like it all, but I want to be able to beat anybody in any particular way."
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Updated January 18, 2023