David Stearns clear about Mets' 2024 expectations: 'We should be competing for a playoff spot'

Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns has been clear since taking over at the beginning of the offseason that he expects the team to be "competitive" in 2024.

During a conversation with SNY's Andy Martino at the Mets DR Academy, Stearns expanded on exactly what being "competitive" this season means to him.

"We should be competing for a playoff spot," Stearns told Martino on Mets Hot Stove. "We should be building a team that has the ability to make the playoffs. And that's certainly the expectation for our team.

"I believe we'll be able to meet that expectation. And we should have exciting baseball in September and October for our fans to be proud of."

Although the Mets put on a full-court press to try to sign Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto -- who ultimately chose the Dodgers despite the Mets offering $325 million -- their offseason to this point can aptly be described as reserved.

Some of that is due to a relatively weak class of free agents, especially at the upper tier of the market.

But it's clear that the Mets are operating this offseason with the goal of not imperiling their desire to build a sustainable winner.

To that end, Stearns noted that although it can be challenging to not make big splashes, he believes the Mets are going about things the right way.

"You're always drawn to what is going to be fun and attractive and immediate," he said. "Delayed gratification is tough in any walks of life. It's tough in baseball as well. So sure, there's always that allure. We also have to recognize that my job is not necessarily to win headlines or win the offseason. My job is to win baseball games, and to put teams together that can win consistently. Every move we make, that's what we're trying to do.

Steve Cohen and David Stearns
Steve Cohen and David Stearns / SNY

"There are going to be times where we're going to make big splashes. Steve (Cohen) has certainly proved that as an owner he's very capable and willing to do that. And there will be times in the future where we're very capable and willing to do that. And to this point this offseason, we've taken a slightly different route, but I think it's one that sets us up well."

With spring training about a month away, the Mets have addressed their serious starting rotation needs by signing Luis Severino and Sean Manaea, and trading for Adrian Houser. And they have added Harrison Bader to the starting outfield mix.

They are expected to add established relievers to the bullpen in the coming weeks, but their intentions are less clear when it comes to the designated hitter spot.

Since the inception of the DH in the National League ahead of the 2022 season, the Mets have not yet had a legitimate DH.

Speaking last week, Stearns said adding another bat this offseason is not "essential."

As far as the DH spot specifically, where Mark Vientos is one internal option, Stearns expanded on his thought process during his chat with Martino.

"I think it's a continual evaluation, and it's both an evaluation of how we feel internally -- those discussions continue -- and also an evaluation of what's available, and how that may impact various players on our team," Stearns said. "It really is this balance between bringing someone a little bit more established, versus allowing our young players to play a little bit more. And that's a balance we're constantly gonna have to find -- not only this year, but going forward.

"I am a big believer of letting your younger players play. At times, that means that you're gonna have some hiccups at the major league level.  And even in New York, we have to be okay with that. We have to understand that at times we're gonna play young players, and they're not gonna succeed immediately. And we have to be patient. And if we are, we'll be rewarded for that."

If the Mets want to add a DH, there are still a bunch of quality options on the free agent market, including Jorge Soler and J.D. Martinez.