When looking at the current construction of the Mets, I’d say there are really only a few positions that are solidified going into next season.
First and foremost, I think the Mets are going to pinpoint a few needs to fill first and foremost: Second base, bullpen and a starter, with the possibility of also adding a corner outfielder who can play first base from time to time.
Catching on the free agent market, and really throughout baseball, is very thin so a tandem of Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki to begin the season makes sense.
At first base, I’m not completely buying the Mets are ready to throw in the towel with Dominic Smith at 22-years-old. Sandy Alderson’s recent comments were likely to ignite a fire under his rear end. If Smith is smart, he will come to Spring Training in tip-top shape ready to win that job.
It seems as though he has already begun preparing, reportedly having shed 11 or 12 pounds already since the conclusion of the season.
I know the Mets have been rumored to be in the market for a first baseman, but I don’t see it happening. Unless they have an offer on the table they can’t refuse for Smith, maybe they go out and get a Logan Morrison or bring back Lucas Duda on a short-term deal to bridge the gap to Peter Alonso, but I think that’s unlikely. Unless of course, it’s to fill another hole.
Asdrubal Cabrera is going to have an everyday job at either the hot corner or second base, so I doubt the Mets will fill both those positions. From my understanding, I think they’re more inclined to find an everyday second baseman, which is why they’ve been recently linked to the likes of Ian Kinsler.
Amed Rosario is going to have every chance to secure that shortstop position, so let’s move on to the outfield. Jay Bruce’s name as well as Lorenzo Cain have been kicked around as potential options to bring in. I don’t see the former happening. I think the Jay Bruce ship has sailed in New York and he will ultimately go back to Cleveland, down to Texas or out to California. Cain would be an appealing option, though I don’t know if the Mets would dole out a four-year deal to him.
The Mets most important need, perhaps, will come in the form of a pitcher. This postseason showed just how crucial a strong bullpen is. The Mets are hoping Jeurys Familia will bounce back to form. With AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins making up the core of the ‘pen, they have a solid group of guys. However, bringing in someone like Bryan Shaw as well as Brandon Kintzler would help really make this bullpen a force to be reckoned with.
The team also seems content on riding their current group of starters. However, I think they will ultimately add at least another one on a short-term deal. R.A. Dickey is one that immediately comes to mind, as he will likely be seeking a one-year contract if he doesn’t retire.
At the keystone, which is the infield position most likely to be upgraded, a trade for someone like Ian Kinsler, Jason Kipnis or Dee Gordon would be a solid get. I think the most likely is Kinsler, who only has one-year left on his contract and likely won’t cost a ton in terms of prospects.
Let’s say the Mets hypothetically trade for Kinsler, taking on his remaining contract, ink Shaw and Kintzler and sign Dickey.
Kinsler is owed approximately $11 million next season, while MLBTradeRumors predicts Shaw will land a three-year, $21 million deal on the open market. MLBTR also has Kintzler signing a two-year, $14 million deal. As for Dickey, he made $7.5 million this past season. Let’s go ahead and duplicate that.
Taking on those four players adds up to roughly $32 million, which is in line with the teams reported spending budget this offseason.
However, I think they could be somewhat flexible, especially if they make a trade. So let’s allot another $10 million for an outfielder via trade or free agency.
That gives the Mets between $32 and $40 million, which is what I believe they will spend.
This should put them in good shape for the beginning of the season. The name of the game is to stay competitive through July and then make any acquisitions as needed, similar to what they did in 2015 when they traded for Yoenis Cespedes, Addison Reed, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Tyler Clippard.
Against all odds, I’m positive that with the right moves and incumbent players remaining healthy, this team could compete in 2018. However, there will be peaks and valleys just like every season. Hopefully with the new coaching staff, training staff and bringing in some fresh bodies will help turn this team’s fortunes around.