5 questions David Stearns should answer as GM meetings begin

David Stearns will be among the Mets brass in attendance during the GM Meetings this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The precursor to the extravaganza that is the Winter Meetings, which will take place from Dec. 4 to 7, the GM Meetings are where teams often lay the groundwork with one another for possible trades.

It will also be a chance for reporters to speak with Stearns for the first time since his introductory news conference on Oct. 2.

Here's what the Mets' president of baseball operations should be asked...

Why did the team choose Carlos Mendoza as manager?

The search for Buck Showalter's replacement has reached its conclusion.

While the Mets were connected to Craig Counsell, they have hired Carlos Mendoza, with Counsell going to the Cubs -- who will be replacing incumbent manager David Ross.

Mendoza was a big name on the market before being tabbed by the Mets, with him also pursued by the Guardians, Giants, and Padres.

So, what was it about Mendoza that made the Mets choose him?

What are the top on-field priorities this offseason?

Stearns didn't speak expansively during his intro news conference about his offseason plans to reshape the team, which wasn't surprising given the gravity of his hire and the other questions he fielded that day.

But with free agency now underway and teams also able to make trades -- and with the Mets in serious need for reinforcements in a number of key spots -- it will be important to hear what Stearns' plan is.

Before former GM Billy Eppler resigned, he had spoken about the need to dip into free agency in a serious way, especially as it pertained to upgrading the starting rotation. Does Stearns feel the same?

Additionally, what is the Mets' appetite when it comes to the biggest names on the market, including Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shohei Ohtani?

And would Stearns consider dipping into his prospect capital if the right trade opportunity came along?

Do you plan to engage Scott Boras on a Pete Alonso extension?

Although Alonso switched agencies to BorasCorp earlier this offseason, the door isn't completely shut on the Mets being able to extend him before he hits the open market.

"We welcome all offers," Boras said earlier this week. "We certainly present them [and] discuss them with the players we represent and we really try to have as open a dialogue as we can and also have an exchange of information, because … even if you don’t get a deal done, it helps the parties understand one another. So we invite negotiations, we invite discussions [and] we invite offers."

When he spoke on Oct. 2, Stearns said he expected Alonso to be the Mets' first baseman on Opening Day.

Sep 3, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) hits a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Seattle Mariners at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

While trade buzz will continue to circulate regarding Alonso even if it's unfounded, it really doesn't make much sense for the Mets to deal him unless they're absolutely blown away. The PR hit would be enormous, and their hope of returning to contention in 2024 would likely be damaged significantly as well.

So what is the plan with Alonso? Will New York engage his representatives this offseason, or wait until after the season to negotiate?

Is a playoff appearance a legitimate expectation for the 2024 Mets?

Stearns said while being introduced that the plan is for the Mets to be competitive in 2024 -- and that being competitive means being a "true playoff contender."

However, Stearns stopped short of saying that reaching the postseason this coming season would be a fair expectation.

You can talk in circles about words like retooling and contending and competing, and what it means to be a "legitimate" World Series threat. However, so much of it is semantics.

The fact of the matter is that quite literally any team that reaches the postseason can win it all -- especially with the new playoff format. Just look at this year's Diamondbacks and the 2023 Phillies.

So it stands to reason that the 2024 Mets, who will be getting Edwin Diaz back and have a boatload of resources at their disposal, should be aiming to reach the playoffs. But is that the expectation?

Is there a plan to fill the GM role soon?

The departure of Eppler has left the Mets without a GM, but they really don't have to fill the role immediately.

That's because Stearns, while the president of baseball operations, is basically functioning as a GM. And the plan before Eppler's resignation was for Stearns to handle the entire big league side of things anyway.

Still, the Mets are planning to hire a GM whose arrival would take a lot off Stearns' plate, but it might not be this offseason.

There were some who theorized that Kim Ng could be a fit for the role after she parted ways with the Marlins, but that never made much sense. Ng left Miami because they wanted to hire a president of baseball operations over her, so why would she want to work in a similar capacity with the Mets or elsewhere?