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Where the Mets stand as the winter meetings begin

Change is coming at the highest levels of the organization, but it hasn’t arrived just yet.

MLB: General Managers Meetings Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, the Mets will presumably look a whole lot different than they do right now. The Wilpons will fade into the background as they finalize the sale of the majority stake of the team to Steve Cohen, but for now, everything that’s been reported about this offseason still feels one hundred percent like the Wilpon Mets. And that leaves things feeling a bit underwhelming as the winter meetings—baseball’s most-hyped gathering of the offseason—get underway in San Diego.

Thus far, the offseason has been fairly quiet. The Mets traded for center fielder Jake Marisnick, who had spent the past several years with the Astros and fulfills their desire for a strong defender in center who is a right-handed hitter. And they signed Brad Brach to a very reasonable one-year deal with a player option for a second year, a move that felt good in equal parts because Brach is a legitimate Mets fan and because he pitched well after joining the team during the 2019 season. That constitutes the entirety of the Mets’ moves at the major league level to this point.

On the minor league side of things, the team plucked left-handed pitcher Stephen Gonsalves off waivers from the Twins early in the offseason. The Mets also added Ali Sanchez, Andres Gimenez, Jordan Humphreys, and Thomas Szapucki to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, designated Drew Gagnon and Chris Flexen for assignment, and signed Chasen Shreve, Jarrett Parker, and Max Moroff to minor league contracts.

That leaves the Mets with an unsurprising list of obvious needs going forward, though as always, it is worth pointing out that going in on elite free agents would make an incredible amount of sense for the Mets given their young, extremely affordable core of position players plus a rotation that features Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman in the top three slots.

But based on what’s expected this offseason, the team is seeking only modest upgrades. There’s still a need for a backup catcher to Wilson Ramos who would be an upgrade over Tomas Nido. The rotation still has just four pitchers in it right now—unless you really buy that putting Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, or Walker Lockett into it would be a wise idea for a team that fancies itself a contender—but the Mets aren’t linked to any of the best pitchers out there. The bullpen is still shaky, at best, beyond the pitchers who excelled in 2019, a list that is short to begin with and doesn’t include Edwin Diaz or Jeurys Familia.

With any luck, this will be the last offseason that sees the Mets operate this way. And hey, we’d love to be proven wrong about the team signing elite, or at least very good, free agents. But it would be shocking for anything major to happen this week—or this offseason, for that matter. If that is the case, the Mets will once again go into a season needing just about everything to break right.