Mets have important offseason ahead as they look to take last step

Oct 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; The New York Mets celebrate in the clubhouse after clinching a wild-card playoff berth after a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; The New York Mets celebrate in the clubhouse after clinching a wild-card playoff berth after a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

In 2017, the Mets will be looking to finish the unfinished business that was their mantra for the 2016 season.

Coming into 2016 with a deep and talented starting rotation, the Mets looked to take it a step further from 2015 and win it all. As you all know that didn’t go as planned as this season’s team was ravaged by injuries and despite these, made an incredible run to the Wild Card.

The 2017 Mets are going to look to take that final step and win a World Championship.

To do so, many important decisions will have to be made this offseason. Along with these decisions, the performance of many key pieces returning will be vital to the success the Mets want to have in 2017.

It goes without saying that the biggest decision this offseason will be what to do with Yoenis Cespedes. He will almost certainly exercise his opt out clause. There is no question the Mets must do everything this offseason to re-sign him.

His presence alone in the lineup makes the rest of the lineup fall into place and thus a tougher one to pitch to. He is one of those few bats in the game that every pitcher fears — a game-changer. And as we have seen, he’s someone who can carry a team on his back.

The Mets’ record when he is in the lineup was 72-54 this year. It would probably take four years, maybe five at about $25 million per year to keep him but it’s something that needs to happen.

As for the rest of the outfield, Curtis Granderson had a resurgence the last month of the year and has one year left on his contract. Juan Lagares provides the Mets with the best defensive option and a solid option against lefties. Jay Bruce has a $13 million team option which the Mets will certainly pick up. What they do after that is a big question.

They could keep Bruce in right where he could provide 30 HR power, but this leaves the outfield very crowded if Cespedes returns. With a Cespedes return, the Mets have an option to see what value they can get for Bruce on the open market and come into the year with an outfield of Cespedes, Granderson, Michael Conforto and Lagares.

For Conforto to return to his 2015 and early 2016 form he must be in the lineup consistently and a Bruce trade would certainly keep him in there.

The only set position is shortstop, with Asdrubal Cabrera. And his signing looks like it may prove to be a bargain at two years and $18.5 million.

At third base, the Captain David Wright will be back, but huge questions surround how effective he can be and how many games he can play. To help this, bringing back Jose Reyes on a league minimum team option would be the way to go. Not only can he play third base, but he can spell Cabrera at short and even play some second base if needed.

When Reyes arrived this year he provided the Mets with a much-needed boost of energy and speed.

I think Neil Walker as long as he is recovered from his surgery should be brought back at a reasonable price. If they can’t retain Walker, second base will most likely be a platoon of T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores.

First base has many questions. Will Lucas Duda, who is arbitration-eligible, be brought back? In any scenario, Flores can play against tough lefties. Another option that has been talked about is moving Conforto to first — especially if Cespedes and Bruce are back in a crowded outfield.
A longshot option is signing Edwin Encarnacion, which would provide a power right-handed bat to balance out the lefties. But he will most likely be out of the Mets’ price range.

Kelly Johnson has been an invaluable player off the bench and should definitely be brought back as you can never have enough players like him.

A big question mark will be the rotation, and not because we won’t know who will be in it.

It will be Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and possible return of ‘Big Sexy’ Bartolo Colon. Other then Syndergaard and Colon, these pitchers all had their seasons ended prematurely with surgery, Harvey’s being the most serious.

How effective they can be — in particular Harvey — will go a long way in how well the 2017 season will go.

With injuries comes opportunity, and Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo took full advantage as they were big reasons the Mets won the Wild Card this season. If anyone is struggling or gets injured, the Mets know they have a couple of arms that can be plugged in.

Zack Wheeler at this point should be considered a wild card and if the Mets get anything positive out of him next year it should be viewed as a bonus.

Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed formed one of the best 1-2 back ends of a bullpen in baseball. Reed is arbitration-eligible and the Mets will certainly bring him back. Jerry Blevins should be brought back as he is a key lefty to get lefties out and actually was effective against righties as well. Bringing him back with Josh Smoker will provide a nice duo of lefties in the pen.

Hansel Robles had periods of ups and downs put provides a solid arm who can pitch many innings. Another unlikely but interesting idea would be to sign Aroldis Chapman and form an unhittable trio at the end of the game to turn many games into six inning ones.

As always, the bullpen will be a crap shoot of young guys or cheap veteran signings to fill out the rest as it’s always mixing and matching in those last spots of a bullpen.

The obvious goal going into 2017 is a World Championship. To help achieve that, the Mets must focus on winning the division to make it straight into the NLDS to avoid a winner take all situation.

I don’t expect any major signings for the Mets. With some of the moves I mentioned, a return of Cespedes and at least a few members of the rotation returning to form, they should be right in contention.

Obviously some other tweaks will be needed to shore up the roster as I don’t expect any big splashes. The Nationals and Cubs will not be going anywhere for years to come and will most likely be the biggest road blocks to a return to the World Series

Next: Jacob deGrom wants Yoenis Cespedes to come back in 2017

It will be an important winter for the Mets and we will have plenty of coverage here on Rising Apple over the coming months.