2017 MLB Preview: NL East- New York Mets

2016 Record: 87-75 (2nd Place)

Manager- Terry CollinsScreen Shot 2017-03-20 at 2.36.41 PM

The Mets didn’t make any major changes to their roster this offseason, as their front office remains confident in same core roster that won them an NL Pennant in 2015.

Their most notable move came at the end of November, resigning their star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year deal worth $110 million. He is a crucial piece of their lineup that the Mets could not afford to lose, as Cespedes led the club in home runs, RBI’s and OBP last season last season. Jay Bruce was a major disappointment after being acquired at the trade deadline, yet the Mets exercised his 2017 option as there lineup lacks any real sources of protection for Cespedes. Although most of his 2017 success came with the Reds, Bruce still managed to end the season with 33 HR and 99 RBI’s. Neil Walker will continue to be another bright spot in that lineup after accepting his qualifying offer in November. Walker has put up above-average numbers for a second baseman throughout his career, tying a career high with 23 home runs last season.

A healthy Lucas Duda will be another source of power, coming off a season where he appeared in just 47 games due to a stress fracture in his back. Duda could potentially lose at-bats to first base prospect Dominic Smith later in the season if the Mets feel he is ready. Asdrubal Cabrera is another veteran who could lose his job to a top prospect, as middle-infield prospects Gavin Cecchini and Ahmed Rosario get closer to the major leagues. Cabrera was a nice surprise for the Mets last season after putting up a .280 average with 23 home runs, yet will have a short leash as he is not a part of their long-term plans. Jose Reyes certainly isn’t part of the Mets long-term plans, yet should get most of the work at third this season as David Wright continues to struggle with injuries. The 33-year-old Reyes is not the player he once was in New York, but serves as a decent placeholder while the Mets figure out what they want to do at third. The Mets may look elsewhere for a long-term option at the position, as the 34-year-old Wright has appeared in just 75 games over the past two seasons and will likely begin the year on the disabled list.

Curtis Granderson, in addition to Jay Bruce, will likely be involved in trade discussions throughout the season as the Mets try to clear a spot in their outfield for Michael Conforto. The 24-year-old Conforto struggled to stay in the majors in what many thought would be a breakout 2016 season, yet the Mets will do anything they can to get their former first-round pick at bats if he begins to blossom. Travis d’Arnaud is another young bat that failed to meet expectations in 2016, as the young catcher took a step back offensively and didn’t show much improvement defensively. This will be a make or break season for him, as the Mets have shown in the past that they would be willing to move on from him if they could find an upgrade. Although their lineup isn’t exactly a strength, they will once again head into the season with an elite starting rotation.

Noah Syndergaard established himself as the team’s ace in 2016, ranking 3rd in the NL with a 2.60 ERA over 183.2 innings. Jacob DeGrom’s 7-8 record was tainted by a lack of run support, and should continue to put up ace-caliber numbers this season. The Mets will be looking for southpaw Steven Matz to reach this status as he enters his sophomore season, finishing 2016 with a 3.40 ERA over 132.1 innings.

2016 was a nightmare for Matt Harvey, with his dismal season being cut short in early July after just 92.2 innings pitched. Harvey’s first three seasons in the majors make it hard to believe that his struggles can be attributed to anything else but his shoulder issues, as a season of good health should bring the Dark Knight back to his ace-status. With the first four spots in their staff set in stone, there is a good amount of uncertainty regarding the final spot in the rotation.

The Mets would love for Zack Wheeler to win the job, who has not pitched in the majors since 2014 after receiving Tommy John surgery in March of 2015. Wheeler showed an enormous amount of potential in his two seasons before getting injured, yet the Mets may want him to begin the year in Triple-A after being away from the majors for such an extended period of time. Ranked their number 14 prospect by MLB.com, Robert Gsellman should be the favorite to win the job, especially after putting up impressive numbers in his seven starts last season. Seth Lugo could also win the job with a strong spring, having made eight strong starts for the club last season.

With a suspension of their star closer Jeurys Familia looming, Addison Reed is the likely candidate to fill this role in his absence. Reed has been excellent for the Mets since being acquired in 2015, yet a return to the closer role he has never really excelled in (but held for three years) could bring back demons for the 28-year-old.*

Bottom Line: The Mets have the talent and depth in their rotation to compete with any team in the majors, yet they will need more run production, specifically from their young players, to compete for a championship.

*Stats and Info from Baseball Reference

-Featured image from Sportsrants.com