It wasn’t an especially aggressive offseason for the Mets, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016, but perhaps it didn’t need to be. After all, even though the franchise, its ownership and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen are often maligned, team brass has assembled a rather talented roster. Last year’s Mets amassed 86 wins – the sixth-highest total in the National League – and are set to bring back their best contributors from then if and when the season gets underway.
Of course, a pair of award winners are at the forefront of the roster. Right-hander Jacob deGrom has earned back to back National League Cy Youngs. There’s little reason to believe he or first baseman Pete Alonso, who pounded 53 home runs in 2019 to earn NL Rookie of the Year honors, are going to let up. And there’s plenty of proven talent supporting that pair, with an appealing rotation (albeit one that lost Zack Wheeler to the division-rival Phillies in free agency) that will consist of some combination of deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, Steven Matz and Michael Wacha.
Meanwhile, a position player cast that finished 2019 seventh in wRC+ and 11th in fWAR is returning the same key complements to Alonso. Hitting machine Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto (currently down with an oblique strain, but he could be fine by the time the season starts), Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, Wilson Ramos and Amed Rosario haven’t gone anywhere. Neither has potential Hall of Fame second baseman Robinson Cano, for whom there appears nowhere to go up after a shockingly poor, injury-marred first season as a Met. And Yoenis Cespedes seems to be progressing after three straight injury-ruined campaigns of his own.
Cano and Cespedes make for potential rebound candidates, as do multiple members of a Mets bullpen that fell on its face a year ago despite Van Wagenen’s efforts to improve it during the previous winter. Edwin Diaz, who joined the Mets from the Mariners in the Cano blockbuster that has blown up in New York’s face so far, and big-money signing Jeurys Familia were terrible. Considering their strong track records, it seems fair to expect some sort of bounce-back effort this season. Likewise, former Yankees star Dellin Betances – who came to the Mets in free agency – is also seeking a return to form. But that’s on account of injuries that all but wiped out his 2019, not any kind of decline in performance. The hope is that those three will get back to normal and join Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson, Robert Gsellman, Brad Brach and likely Wacha to comprise a dominant bullpen. There’s loads of risk in that bunch, but the upside is evident.
It was an odd winter for the Mets, who had to can rookie skipper Carlos Beltran before he ever managed a game, thanks to his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. To the chagrin of many Mets fans, they also saw a potential sale of the franchise fall apart. Off-field turmoil aside, Beltran’s replacement, Luis Rojas, looks to be inheriting a good situation. However, it should be a dogfight in the NL East, which could feature as many as four contenders (the Braves, Nationals and Phillies are the others).
Before the coronavirus turned the world on its head, back when baseball was supposed to consist of 162 games, PECOTA projected 87.9 wins and a division title for the Mets. Normally, it would be customary to ask how many victories you expect them to rack up, but a 162-game season is a pipe dream at this point. Therefore, let’s take the simpler route: If a baseball season does happen, will the Mets make the playoffs?
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