NL East team preview: Will Mets' offseason headlines change on-field results?

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Todd Dybas
New York was active in the winter assembling a team with big names -- and hanging on to key players of its own.
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NL East team preview: Will Mets' offseason headlines change on-field results? originally appeared on nbcsportswashington.com

This is the third of a weeklong look around the National League East, baseball's most competitive division, to assess who the Nationals are dealing with. Today, the New York Mets:

New York Mets

2018 record: 77-85

Overview: The Mets were not afraid of offseason splashes. A gigantic trade brought Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz to town. Wilson Ramos was hired to do the catching. Jed Lowrie signed to move around the infield. Former-agent-turned-GM Brodie Van Wagenen aggressively roared through his first winter in charge.

"I think that there's an energy in the air at this point with everything that Brodie is doing," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said at the Winter Meetings. "He's tirelessly working to get us the best baseball team we can possibly get. I have no doubt that Sandy [Alderson] tirelessly worked to do the same thing. They probably did it in a little bit of a different way. As far as I am concerned, I'm going to have a relationship that is one where we can both say what we feel to each other and try to improve the Mets in every way."

Already hanging over the Mets are injury issues. Lowrie (strained knee) and Todd Frazier (strained oblique) are unlikely to be ready for Opening Day when New York plays in Nationals Park. Noah Syndergaard echos Stephen Strasburg with top-shelf potential annually slowed by injuries. Starting pitchers Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler were both hurt in 2017 before turning in full seasons in 2018. 

If healthy, always the question for the Mets' rotation, the top four can compete with the Nationals and others. Veteran left-hander Jason Vargas is the fifth starter. For now.

Looming for the Mets is Yoenis Cespedes. New York hopes Cespedes can return this season following surgery on both heels. They owe the 33-year-old $29 million this season and $29.5 million in 2020. 

The early injuries have caused Callaway to mix-and-match in spring. Signing Cano initially pushed Jeff McNeil to the outfield. He's worked lately at third base since an opening currently exists. Rookie Pete Alonso, a top-50 prospect, appears to be working his way into first base to start the season. 

At the least, New York has repopulated with big names over the winter. It now needs the season to see if roster splashes produce wins.

Projected lineup (2018 WAR):

Brandon Nimmo (LF, 4.4)

Jeff McNeil (3B, 2.4)

Robinson Cano (2B, 3.2)

Wilson Ramos (C, 2.7)

Michael Conforto (RF, 2.9)

Pete Alonso (1B, N/A)

Amed Rosario (SS, 0.6)

Juan Lagares (CF, 1.0)

Projected rotation (2018 WAR):

Jacob deGrom (10.0)

Noah Syndergaard (4.0)

Zack Wheeler (4.2)

Steven Matz (1.7)

Jason Vargas (-0.3)

Projected bullpen keys (2018 WAR):

Edwin Diaz (3.2)

Jeurys Familia (1.5)

Seth Lugo (2.1)

Robert Gsellman (-0.3)

NL ranks last season:

HR: 10th

OPS: 12th

Starter ERA: 4th

Reliever ERA: 14th

Fangraphs 2019 win projection: 84

Other NL East Team Previews:

- Philadelphia Phillies

- Atlanta Braves

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