With Carlos Correa a Twin, Billy Eppler discusses Steve Cohen's belief that Mets 'needed one more hitter'

Billy Eppler speaking to the media during Mets end of season news conference on Oct. 14, 2022.
Billy Eppler speaking to the media during Mets end of season news conference on Oct. 14, 2022. / SNY

During Tuesday's Mets news conference to introduce Omar Narvaez and reintroduce Adam Ottavino, GM Billy Eppler was asked about the negotiations between the team and Carlos Correa, who wound up on the Minnesota Twins after talks broke down with New York.

The disagreement with Correa's camp was over something the Mets flagged during his physical -- specifically an ankle injury sustained in 2014 that led to a plate being inserted and left the Mets (and San Francisco Giants) concerned about how it will hold up over the course of a deal.

Eppler was asked to weigh in on the situation, but understandably declined to go into specifics given the sensitivity of the disagreement over medicals.

But Eppler did answer questions about the Mets' offense -- including comments made by owner Steve Cohen when the club first reached an agreement with Correa -- and where the team goes from here.

Those comments, for anyone who might have forgotten:

"This really makes a big difference. I felt like our pitching was in good shape. We needed one more hitter. This puts us over the top."

Of course, the Mets don't have that "one more hitter" now that Correa is a Twin.

So, is Eppler comfortable with the lineup as presently constructed?

"I think we have a strong and deep lineup. I'm confident in our group's ability to score runs," Eppler told reporters. "This goes without saying, and I think I've said it in the past -- relating to any one of the areas of the organization -- you can always be better.

"That's kind of the purpose of making sure you're not sitting in a fixed mindset, and you kind of adopt more of a mindset, or a growth-based mindset, where you can always improve. That's what we're gonna look to do. ... I do think we have a strong lineup as currently configured, but we can always be better."

The Mets' offense last season was near the top of the league as far as runs scored, but faltered during their NL East-deciding late-season sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves and in their three-game Wild Card Series loss to the San Diego Padres, leading many (including the owner) to believe the team was in need of one more difference-making bat.

But as of now, the team is returning basically the same offense as 2022 (except for Narvaez replacing James McCann), and is seemingly not yet ready to rely on Francisco Alvarez and/or Brett Baty.

Is more offense coming via free agency or trade?

"I'm still engaged in the market, talking to representation both in the outfield and in the bullpen spot," Eppler said. "Still active. Whether anything actually comes to fruition and we're doing another one of these [news conferences] remains to be seen. But definitely still having the conversations."

Eppler spoke at length on Tuesday about Citi Field not being conducive to power, and was hopeful that the lineup in 2023 would thrive -- due in part to new rules restricting certain shifts.

"It stands to reason that some contact, and a contact approach would get rewarded," Eppler explained. "There'd be more traffic on the bases. To couple with that high on-base percentage, you're probably going to see [batting] average go up a little bit. You look at our offensive environment, there's many ways to score."

Added Eppler about the Mets' hitting philosophy:

"Hitting a three-pointer is cool every now and then, and having guys that can put a ball in the seats. I want a lineup that's able to beat people in a number of different ways. ... I like power, 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. I think that fits our scheme, I think that fits our ballpark. I think there's reasons we should feel good about our offense."