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Mets, Steve Cohen miss top target, but here’s where they’ll pivot this winter with an eye on 2024 and beyond

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In the end, Steve Cohen’s wealth only went so far. Thursday night Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto agreed to a record 12-year, $325 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cohen’s New York Mets reportedly made the same offer — 12 years and $325 million with opt outs — but Yamamoto opted for Los Angeles and the 100-win Dodgers. Can’t say I blame him.

“I think the whole organization tried our hardest, and someone was going to win and someone was going to lose, and that is the way it goes,” Cohen told the New York Post after losing out on Yamamoto. “I feel good about our efforts and I left it all on the field. Life goes on.”

For the Mets, Yamamoto would have been the cornerstone piece of their quasi-rebuild. He turned only 25 in August and he has the talent to pitch at or near the front of the rotation. The Mets went 75-87 in 2023 and sold at the trade deadline, and beefed up their farm system. Yamamoto’s prime aligns well with the touted young prospects who will arrive within a year or two.

Unlike the crosstown rival Yankees, the Mets are not expected to pivot to another top free agent starter, meaning Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell. New president of baseball operations David Stearns is expected to take a more measured approach to improving the team in the short-term without bogging down payroll or the 40-man roster long-term.

To date Stearns has signed starter Luis Severino, utility man Joey Wendle, and relievers Austin Adams and Michael Tonkin to sensible one-year contracts. They also acquired starter Adrian Houser, who is a year away from free agency, and platoon outfielder Tyrone Taylor, who has three years of team control but won’t break the bank in arbitration given his role.

Now that Yamamoto has signed, Stearns and the Mets can move on to building out the rest of the roster. A roster that could be very good and contend in 2024 even though the primary focus seems to be 2025 and beyond. Here’s three steps the Mets can take next.

1. Add another starter

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