With roughly six weeks to go until spring training, the Mets -- and most teams in baseball aside from the San Diego Padres -- still have a ton of work to do when it comes to putting a 26-man roster together for Opening Day.
For the Mets, they still have glaring needs in center field and the starting rotation, and can use more help in the bullpen.
So it's a good thing that most of the top free agents are still available and that there are lots of intriguing names floating around on the trade market.
As Sandy Alderson and Jared Porter continue working the phones and Steve Cohen adeptly fends off tweets from impatient fans, here's our way too early Mets 26-man roster prediction for the 2021 season...
Let's get the biggest name out of the way first: George Springer will be a Met.
While depth is nice and the Mets can load up if they want on lower tier players, it's very hard to see the Steve Cohen Mets going 0-for the offseason on stars. Not with the Mets having the need, the salary cap flexibility, and being as uniquely positioned as they are to take advantage of the market. So Springer will be in Queens. Mark it down.
Aside from Springer, unless you expect the Mets to trade for Francisco Lindor or Nolan Arenado (which wouldn't seem likely if they land Springer), the other eight starters are pretty obvious. It's just a matter of where they'll play.
There's a good argument to be made that Pete Alonso should be the DH (yes, the guess is that it will be back in 2021) with Dominic Smith at first base. But the Mets used the opposite alignment most of 2020.
Brandon Nimmo slides over to left field, where he is a perfect fit.
Elsewhere, you have Jeff McNeil (second base) and Andres Gimenez (shortstop) at the positions where they're most comfortable. That leaves Amed Rosario at third base, where he's been getting reps.
Yes, there could be a weak spot in the lineup if Rosario doesn't rebound. But with the players surrounding him, the Mets would be just fine.
Jacob deGrom, RHP
Marcus Stroman, RHP
David Peterson LHP
Jake Odorizzi, RHP
Steven Matz, LHP
No, Trevor Bauer's name is not under Jacob deGrom's.
If the Mets didn't need to extend some of their own players -- including Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard -- a case could be made for signing both Springer and Bauer. But the Mets need to think long-term.
And thinking long-term means a starting five led by deGrom and Marcus Stroman and bolstered by free agent Jake Odorizzi, who is fourth in the rotation in order to separate the lefties. Contact between the Mets and Odorizzi has been minimal lately, but he still makes the most sense of all the remaining free agent options.
The last spot could easily go to someone aside from Steven Matz (perhaps a high-upside pitcher like Corey Kluber or James Paxton), but the guess here is that his 2020 was an aberration for Matz and that he again becomes a reliable cog in 2021.
While the above group is solid, the Mets are still in dire need of another pitcher with ace potential to slot in behind deGrom. That could be Noah Syndergaard, who is on schedule as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.
The Mets can't rely on a healthy Syndergaard, though, and should be working the phones now and into the season if needed trying to see if they can pry someone's ace away. Sonny Gray and Carlos Carrasco are potential options there, though Alderson could be understandably reluctant to part with too much.
Edwin Diaz, CLS
Brad Hand, LHP
Seth Lugo, RHP
Trevor May, RHP
Dellin Betances, RHP
Jeurys Familia RHP
Brad Brach, RHP
Miguel Castro, RHP
There are some Mets fans who will cringe when looking at Edwin Diaz being listed as the closer, but they shouldn't.
While Diaz struggled badly in 2019, he was simply a different pitcher in 2020 -- and his dominance is backed up by the advanced numbers.
Joining Diaz in the back end of the bullpen will be free agent addition Brad Hand (who will give the Mets a dominant lefty who can close if needed), Seth Lugo (who belongs in the bullpen instead of the rotation), and hard-throwing Trevor May.
While the rest of the bullpen is sketchy, there's tons of upside there -- especially if Dellin Betances and/or Jeurys Familia rebound.
Other relievers who will be in the mix for a spot include Robert Gsellman, Jerry Blevins, Drew Smith, and Jacob Barnes.
Tomas Nido, C
Luis Guillorme, INF
J.D. Davis, 3B/OF
Jake Marisnick, OF
There's not really a ton to analyze when it comes to the makeup of the Mets' bench.
As Cohen and Alderson have said many times, they lack quality depth -- especially at the upper levels of the minors and on the 40-man roster. That lack of depth makes it easier to project who will make up the bench.
Nido and Guillorme are locks and Davis will be too unless he is traded.
That leaves one spot that really needs to go to an outfielder who can handle center field.
A look at the free agent market for potential backups shows slim pickings, meaning the return of Jake Marisnick -- an elite defender -- makes the most sense.