Editor’s note: Baseball is back and Yahoo Sports is previewing all 30 teams over the next month. This year’s previews will focus on fantasy and reality, as our MLB news staff and our fantasy baseball crew come together to assess each team before opening day. Next up, the New York Mets.
Let’s give the New York Mets a prize for having the most unpredictable and entertaining offseason we’ve seen in quite a while.
That was just the start of the Mets’ wild ride, which will now turn toward an even more important question: Can the new-look Mets win?
The first major move of the BVM era was trading for Cano and closer Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners. It was a bold move, taking on an aging Cano and his big contract. Bold is probably the best word for the Mets these days. They’re trying — and they’re seeking input from new places. They also brought Jessica Mendoza, the former softball star and current ESPN MLB analyst, into their front office.
The foundation of the modern Mets remains their pitching; it’s what makes them a team worth building around and a team that fantasy owners will want to watch.
The Reigning Cy Young winner deGrom already showed us how great he can be, and Noah Syndergaard is undeniably nasty if he can stay healthy. Beyond that, the Mets have some young position players with upside that might be worth a look in your draft, like Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Peter Alonso.
Whether it’s real baseball or fantasy baseball, there will be a lot of eyes on the Mets this year. - Mike Oz
Mets’ offseason grade
Beyond the Cano/Diaz trade, the Mets also signed Wilson Ramos to solidify their catching situation. They signed Jed Lowrie to add more depth to their infield, but he’s hurt and unlikely for opening day. J.D. Davis came over from the Houston Astros and will help while Todd Frazier is hurt. Jeurys Familia signed with the Mets again and should be their setup man. They also landed Keon Broxton in a trade, hoping that he can finally put it all together in Queens.
Our grade: B — They may regret the Cano trade one day, but above all, the Mets rewrote their narrative this offseason and are trying to win. Never mad at a team for that. - Mike Oz
Mets projected lineup and pitching staff
Who is the Mets’ best fantasy value?
Citi Field is never going to be Coors or Arlington — we get that. But what Michael Conforto did at home last year probably belongs in the fluke file. His OPS was 129 points higher at home in 2017, not particularly unusual, but last year he took a 213-point OPS tax when swinging in Flushing Meadows. Despite taking on 270 additional at-bats last year, Conforto only increased his home-run count by one.
Now's a good time to jump back in. Conforto enters his age-26 season and his shoulder finally seems healthy. He needs to prove he can adjust to the shift, but Conforto is going to hit plenty of rockets that are caught by fans, not fielders. And we dare him to be as unlucky at Citi Field as he was last season. He's a player to target around his Yahoo ADP of 109. - Scott Pianowski
What is New York’s biggest fantasy question?
Is Jacob deGrom really worth a first-round pick? Probably.
While no one can realistically expect a repeat of last year's dream season (and 1.70 ERA), his career ratios (2.67 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) are reasonable targets. And keep in mind, deGrom is a converted pitcher — this is not someone who logged a bunch of abuse innings early in his amateur career. There's less scar tissue here. And while there are several wonderful bats who belong in the top 10 or so, be mindful of this — the No. 1 overall fantasy player is usually a starting pitcher, since their contribution makes for a heavier percentage of your overall fantasy collection. I'm not saying you have to take deGrom in the first round, but there's nothing wrong with the angle. - Scott Pianowski
Mets prospect to watch
First baseman Peter Alonso is carried by his immense power. He led the minors with 36 home runs last season. The 24-year-old likely won’t hit for average, and is still a work in progress on defense, so power is his calling card. The Mets seem determined to give Dominic Smith a shot at the starting job. Unless Smith dominates, Alonso will likely be up in the majors hitting dingers pretty soon. - Chris Cwik
Things that MUST go right for the Mets
1. Noah Syndergaard stays healthy: The Mets injured list has been lengthy over the last few years. Several key players have missed extended time, including the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. Of those three, Syndergaard is the key guy for 2019. After making just 32 combined starts the last two seasons, the Mets need a full season from their second ace if they hope to make a leap in the NL East.
2. Robinson Cano pays off: New Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen discarded a potential rebuild and focused on winning right away by acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Mariners. The key to that deal working out will be Cano's production. He's not the same elite caliber player he used to be, but he's still a very strong veteran presence to have in the lineup. That will have to continue, especially with Yoenis Cespedes looking unlikely to be a major factor.
3. Outfield puts it together: As noted, it's possible Cespedes will be a non-factor for the Mets coming off heel surgery. That will put some pressure on their remaining outfielders to step up. It's a talented group with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares all back. Keon Broxton was added as well for depth. All four players have flashed exciting potential, but they've also all struggled to perform consistently and stay healthy. The Mets need them to take a collective step forward if they hope to avoid another bottom 10 finish in runs scored. - Mark Townsend
If this team had a walk-up song, what would it be?
In Queens this year, it will certainly be survival of the fittest, especially with the NL East being as strong as it is. Can the Mets keep up? Maybe if they listen to enough Mobb Deep songs.
We’re picking this gem from the Queens rap group to rep the Queens baseball team. There’s a war going in the NL East no team is safe from. - Mike Oz