Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen

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Keidel: The Mets Aren't All In

Offseason Moves Remind Us Again They're Not The Yankees

Jason Keidel
December 19, 2018 - 12:05 pm

So the Mets announced the signing of catcher Wilson Ramos, their consolation prize for failing to acquire another catcher, J.T. Realmuto. 

This is perhaps the final log of the Mets' hot stove surge. It may not be the big-ticket deal the team's fans hoped for, but it does serve as a symbol of the Mets as the second team in town. 

Indeed, while Ramos was the buzz from Flushing, the rumblings from River Avenue tell us that Manny Machado is coming to chat with the Yankees. A team that just won 100 games and pushed the Red Sox all season is still looking to add players and payroll to an already loaded club. And the 77-win Mets have a catcher. 

MORE: Mets Sign Outfielder Rajai Davis To Minor-League Deal

When the Mets introduced new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, it gave the Mets a fresh start and a spiked sense of self. Van Wagenen isn't the retrograde, cigar-chomping baseball lifer who has been eased out of the sport. He is smart and dashing and dialed-in, an agent who seemed to represent half the players in the Big Apple. 

So after the shiny new boss traded for closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano, it gave us the sense that these were the new Mets, that they were tired of taking the seat behind the Yankees, with an obstructed view of the future. So when Van Wagenen boldly declared that the Mets should be considered the favorites in the NL East, we figured it would come after signing Machado or Bryce Harper, the two singular talents on the free agent market this winter. Instead, it comes after the return of reliever Jeurys Familia and the two-year, $19 million contract they gave Ramos (with a juicy option for a third year). 

While on WFAN on Tuesday, Van Wagenen didn't wave the white flag for the offseason and hinted that the Mets still have payroll pliability. But he also said that their big right-handed bat would come during the summer when Yoenis Cespedes would presumably stroll back to Citi Field from the latest in his litany of injuries. 

This is what the Mets do. They tease you into thinking they are plowing through the market, grabbing the best players dangling from the aisle, rolling up to the cashier and flashing that Amex Black Card. Yet when pressed by Evan Roberts into dropping variables from the lexicon and just adding another big bat, Van Wagenen dove into culinary metaphors, calling Cespedes the gravy, not the turkey. 

MORE: Jeurys Familia Had Mind Set On Returning 'Home' To Mets

This isn't a knock on the Mets' new GM. He clearly knows the names and the games behind signing them. He's likely handcuffed by an implicit deal with the Wilpons, licensed to make a few moves while keeping the vault mostly locked. It's hard to believe this was the same squad that reached the World Series a few years ago, with a rotation of aces and a blinding future. 

At least the Mets didn't deal their best pitchers, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, the two biggest lures for you to come to the ballpark next spring. Not to mention the team stayed mainly on message, that a reboot wasn't the blueprint, that they plan to contend in 2019. And the Mets are clearly better now than they were at the end of the 2018 season. 

But if you're looking for that singular signing, that Mike Piazza-type monolith who can turn this franchise around, you will probably be disappointed. Maybe Van Wagenen believes his assertion that the Mets are the best team in their division. But you don't. And you will once again be reminded why your Mets are not the Yankees. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel​.