The Mets, who have had a tremendous offseason while rebuilding much of the team that won 101 games last season, appear largely set roster-wise with less than a month to go until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
The exception, of course, is that they're still without the one more hitter owner Steve Cohen said they "needed." Cohen of course made that comment when the team came to terms with Carlos Correa (before the deal fell apart over concerns about Correa's ankle). And the Mets did not replace Correa with a similar offensive player -- or even someone who profiles as a starter.
So as spring training gets closer, and with the Mets still in need of more offense (regardless of how GM Billy Eppler recently spun it), perhaps they'll pull off a surprise trade.
But the guess here is that the roster they have now is basically the one they'll enter the season with. If that's the case, they'll have to hope that one of their young players emerges as a lineup option and/or be aggressive ahead of the trade deadline.
And the need for more punch in the lineup colored our way too early Mets 26-man roster prediction, which is below...
Aside from the catching and third base situations, which we'll delve into below, the Mets' regular lineup is set.
Most days, it will include Alonso, McNeil, Lindor, Nimmo, Marte, Canha, and Vogelbach.
While McNeil should get most of his starts at second base, the Mets have the option to use him in the corner outfield when they so choose. So they can get creative with lineup combinations that include McNeil in the outfield and a different configuration at second base and/or third base.
That takes us to the hot corner.
Escobar struggled for most of the 2022 season, but he erupted in September as his bat came alive and he was named the National League Player of the Month.
There's a case to be made that Escobar should only start against left-handers (he slugged .519 against them last season compared to .387 against righties). That would open the door for Brett Baty to be the long end of a third base platoon. But the Mets probably want Baty to get a little more seasoning in Triple-A.
Getting more reps in the minors might also benefit Alvarez, but his bat has a chance to be such a weapon that he should be in the Mets' plans from the jump in 2023.
The plan should be to have Alvarez (who needs to continue developing behind the plate and should absolutely not be used this season as a full-time DH) and Narvaez catch 70 or so games each, with Tomas Nido getting the other starts. On days when Alvarez is not behind the plate, he can be utilized as the DH. It would allow the Mets to have his bat in the lineup more often than not while easing him into the full-time catching role.
Barring something strange happening or an injury throwing a wrench into things, the Mets' starting five is etched in stone. And with Scherzer having seniority over Verlander, he'll get the Opening Day nod and be the 1 to Verlander's 1A. But those designations really don't matter much.
Beyond the five expected rotation members, the Mets will have solid depth that includes Tylor Megill, David Peterson, Elieser Hernandez, Joey Lucchesi, and Jose Butto.
None of those guys are fearsome, but Megill has a decent amount of upside that he showcased early last season before his year was derailed by injury.
For those wondering when the next crop of high upside Mets starting pitching prospects will start to come on the radar, you'll have to wait a bit.
Blade Tidwell could be ready at some point in 2024, and Calvin Ziegler could debut in 2025. Matt Allan is a bit of a wild card, and after losing a couple of seasons to injury we'll have to see him back on the mound and performing before determining when he might make his presence felt in the bigs.
Edwin Diaz, CLS
David Robertson, RHP
Adam Ottavino, RHP
Brooks Raley, LHP
Drew Smith, RHP
John Curtiss RHP
Bryce Montes de Oca, RHP
David Peterson, LHP
Most of the Mets' bullpen appears set.
Diaz, Robertson, Ottavino, Raley, and Smith are locks.
Curtiss, whom the Mets signed to a two-year deal last offseason as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery, should have an inside track at one of the other spots. He does have minor league options remaining, though.
But if the above six pitchers are in the bullpen, the Mets have room for one or two more, depending on if they carry seven or eight -- and we have them carrying eight.
Montes de Oca, who has otherworldly stuff but needs to refine it, will nab one of them, and Peterson will make it as the long man and second lefty.
The Mets also have plenty of other bullpen options, including Stephen Ridings, Zach Greene, Jeff Brigham, and Tayler Saucedo.
Tomas Nido, C
Luis Guillorme, INF
Daniel Vogelbach, Tommy Pham, Omar Narvaez, Francisco Alvarez (bench options depending on that day's lineup)
Nido will be the backup catcher and Guillorme will be the backup infielder who gets some starts. Beyond that, the Mets' bench will depend on who is in the starting lineup that day.
The bench should often include Pham, who will be the fourth outfielder. It will sometimes include Vogelbach, who will also be the backup first baseman (he started 52 games there in 2021). It will sometimes include Narvaez and/or Alvarez.
Other bench possibilities include Danny Mendick (who has minor league options) and Mark Vientos.
Darin Ruf, who remains on the team but doesn't really have a role, should be traded before Opening Day.