With a plethora of looming free agents entering 2017, it was inevitable that the Mets 2018 lineup was going to look a lot different than it did this season. New York has some money to spend in free agency and could navigate the trade market, but before that, they will need to decide who to retain for next season.
Here’s a breakdown of which Mets’ hitters should return, and which could see their status in limbo:
LOCKS TO BE ON NEXT YEAR’S TEAM
While the Mets will likely add at least one player to the mix, they are most stable in the outfield where Cespedes and Conforto are guaranteed starting roles. Lagares should make the team based on defense and contract, although he’s probably more of a reserve.
On the infield, the team clearly is counting on Rosario and Smith to man starting roles. It’s conceivable that the team could trade Flores if the right deal comes along, but he seems like he’ll almost certainly be used again in some super-sub role for the Mets in 2018.
ON THE BUBBLE
Let’s start with the probable returnees. The Mets will almost certainly look to upgrade at catcher, but given the league-wide state of flux at the position and the lack of market for d’Arnaud, he will probably be back. Cabrera has the player option, but it’s relatively cheap and he could start at second or third base for the Mets next year, so he’s probably closer to a lock than being bought out.
Now the trickier ones. Reyes is a free agent, and there seems to be mutual interest in him returning in a bench role. Considering the price tag would be low, it could happen. If healthy, Wright and Rivera will be on the 25-man. That’s a big “if,” of course. September is likely an audition for Nimmo to show if he belongs on the team. At this point, it could go either way. The Mets will probably sign a veteran catcher similar to Rene Rivera, but if not, Plawecki has looked better at the plate and could possibly be the backup.
WON’T BE AROUND
The Mets are somewhat deep in the infield, and neither of these players have done much of anything to warrant a spot in New York. There’s a slim chance either player could latch on as the team’s 25th man, but it’s more likely they’ll be in Las Vegas.
That leaves six locks on the Mets’ current roster to be part of next year’s team. Last year, they opened the season with 13 position players, so that means there are seven spots to be filled.
Some of those will still be filled internally, while others will be acquired through free agency and trade. The Mets will need to figure out catcher, second base, third base and at least one outfield spot. There’s also room for some bench additions.
When all is said and done, the offense to start 2018 might look something like this:
C – d’Arnaud, free agent/trade
1B – Smith
2B – Free agent/trade
SS – Rosario, Reyes
3B – Cabrera, Flores
OF – Cespedes, Conforto, Free agent/trade, Lagares, Nimmo
While the market isn’t exactly robust this offseason, the Mets need to look outside the organization to fill a couple or roles, particularly on the infield and outfield. As it currently stands, this lineup is probably lacking at least one big bat, and acquiring that player will be one of the biggest tasks of the offseason.