PORT ST. LUCIE — As tempted as David Stearns might be to dive into the free-agent market for another bat, the Mets president of baseball operations remains steady with his plan for this season.
And that plan, for now at least, remains to stick with in-house options at third base and DH.
“There’s always temptation to get better and there’s always temptation when there’s good players available to see how they fit on your roster,” Stearns said Monday on the report date for pitchers and catchers at Clover Park. “There’s no perfect answer for this one. … When you add an established player, it’s just by nature going to take time away from younger players and we have to walk that balance.”
Brett Baty and Mark Vientos are the primary players to whom Stearns referred.
Offensive pieces still on the free-agent market include J.D. Martinez, Jorge Soler and Matt Chapman.
But Stearns acknowledged it’s also possible prices will drop to the point, with spring training starting, that the Mets will have to reconsider.
“I don’t think that is out of the question,” Stearns said. “You are always evaluating opportunity, we are always trying to evaluate the risk/reward and the trade-offs, so I don’t think that is out of the question.”
Stearns revisited comments he made on a podcast last week, when he indicated Pete Alonso likely won’t reach agreement with the club on a new contract before he hits free agency in the offseason.
“I think that’s the most likely outcome, but we’re not going to get into the specifics of any particular negotiation,” Stearns said. “I am not going to provide any updates on any conversations that exist back and forth, but when you have a real talented player who is really good who is entering his final year of club control who happens to be represented by Scott Boras, these things end up generally into free agency and we understand that.
“This is an organization that has dealt with that before with really good players and it’s ended up in a perfectly fine spot. I have not seen Pete here yet, haven’t talked to him here yet, but what we’re going to talk about is, ‘Let’s go out and have a great year. … Let’s have a great year as a team and if we do that, we’re both going to be set up — the organization and Pete — going to the offseason.’ ”
Starling Marte’s play in the Dominican Republic last month was encouraging to Mets officials, including Stearns, who were in attendance to evaluate the veteran outfielder.
“It was clear watching him play that he was healthy,” Stearns said. “The game I was at he had to handle a number of balls down the right-field line and he got there easily. It looked like Starling Marte moving in the outfield, so that was really encouraging.”
Marte missed most of the final two months last season dealing with groin discomfort.
The Mets signed outfielder Ben Gamel to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Gamel, 31, has played for six teams over his eight-year major league career, including the Yankees (who selected him in the 10th round of the 2010 draft).