Ranking the Mets' remaining offseason needs, including center field and third base

Danny Abriano
·5 min read
Jackie Bradley Jr. and Corey Kluber TREATED ART
Jackie Bradley Jr. and Corey Kluber TREATED ART

The Mets have done serious work already this offseason, turning themselves into legitimate World Series contenders.

Trevor May was added to the back end of a bullpen that already featured Edwin Diaz and should see the return of Seth Lugo.

James McCann was brought in to solidify the catching position, giving the Mets a backstop who should be at least average -- and perhaps a plus -- on both sides of the ball.

Last but definitely not least, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco were acquired from the Cleveland Indians, giving the Mets a superstar shortstop who is one of the best two-way players in baseball and a starting rotation anchor.

But there is more work to be done.

With the start of spring training roughly a month away, here are four things the Mets should still have on their agenda when it comes to building the roster for 2021, ranked from lowest priority to highest...

4. Add one more high-end reliever

The Mets' bullpen isn't quite loaded, but it's in good shape. And the outlook would improve even more if Jeurys Familia and/or Dellin Betances returns to form.

With the expectation that Seth Lugo will be part of the 'pen (and he absolutely belongs there), here's what the relief corps likely looks like right now:

Edwin Diaz, CLS
Seth Lugo, RHP
Trevor May, RHP
Dellin Betances, RHP
Jeurys Familia RHP
Brad Brach, RHP
Miguel Castro, RHP

If the Mets carry eight relievers, that leaves one spot (or two if Castro isn't on the Opening Day roster) from a group that includes Robert Gsellman, Jacob Barnes, Stephen Tarpley, Jerry Blevins, and Drew Smith.

The Mets have plenty of in-house options, but adding a finishing piece of sorts by signing free agent Brad Hand -- whom they remain interested in -- would make the bullpen a truly elite unit.

3. Find a third baseman

With Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario now in Cleveland, the Mets' third base options appear to be J.D. Davis and Luis Guillorme.

Team president Sandy Alderson recently said the defensively-challenged Davis is the third baseman "for now," and Guillorme -- despite his slick fielding -- doesn't profile as a starter at third base.

If the Mets add another big bat (more on that below), they can probably get away with going defense-first at third base.

If they don't, it would be wise to find a third baseman who can provide at least some punch on offense and who can handle the position defensively.

The Mets spoke to the Chicago Cubs about Kris Bryant (though it seems he'll land elsewhere) and have also been connected to Kyle Seager.

Given the Mets' other needs and current payroll, taking on an expensive third base option probably doesn't make sense -- DJ LeMahieu included.

Tommy La Stella and Jedd Gyorko are among the most interesting names on the free agent market.

2. Sign a high-upside starting pitcher

The Mets are in solid shape in the starting rotation, with Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman, and David Peterson likely entering camp as four of the five starters.

Then there is Steven Matz, who could have the inside track for the No. 5 spot.

Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard -- making strong progress as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery -- could return by June.

But the Mets can't rely on Matz. And they can't rely on Syndergaard's health. They also can't rely on the health of their projected top four starters.

As we saw last year, when the injuries and struggles of the rotation torpedoed the Mets' season, you can never have enough starting pitching.

Enter Corey Kluber or James Paxton?

Both Kluber (the Mets were expected at his showcase on Wednesday) and Paxton are wild cards due to recent health issues, but they are high-upside pitchers the Mets can afford to take a chance on now that the rotation has been solidified.

And if they sign one of them and that upside is reached? The Mets, by June, could have a dominant rotation featuring deGrom, Carrasco, Stroman, Syndergaard, and one of Kluber or Paxton.

1. Find a center fielder

There is still uncertainty when it comes to whether or not there will be a DH in the National League in 2021, and that complicates the situation in center field.

Specifically, the Mets will be in a tough spot if there isn't a DH because left field would be the only spot for Dominic Smith. And that's where Brandon Nimmo should be.

But if the Mets are operating under the belief that they will have a DH, it's quite clear that finding a center fielder who can handle the position defensively should be their top remaining priority.

Alderson said Tuesday that the Mets are "still engaged" with George Springer, and he remains a possibility for New York.

But with roughly $30 million to spend before hitting the luxury tax threshold, adding Springer would likely limit the Mets' options elsewhere -- and another megadeal could make it harder to extend players such as Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard.

The above is why it makes sense for the Mets to zero in on free agent Jackie Bradley Jr. for center field.

With thump added to the lineup with the addition of Lindor, the Mets can afford to go defense-first in center. And Bradley -- who also has a solid bat -- is quite simply one of the best defensive center fielders in the game.