With the 2017 season fast approaching, expectations are high for a Mets organization coming off back-to-back playoff berths. However, many questions remain whether bringing back the same roster is enough to get them over the top
Teams around the league have reported to Spring Training, as the 2017 season is near. For the Mets, expectations are high heading into the season. After all, the organization is coming off back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since the 1999-2000 seasons.
However, this current roster is nearly identical to last season, a season in which the Mets lost in the Wild Card game against the Giants. It is for this reason, many fans, including myself, are questioning whether enough was done during the offseason to keep this Mets team as competitive as possible for 2017.
Most of the front office’s work during the offseason involved bringing back key members of the 2016 season.
To the delight of many fans, the front office was able to lock up Cespedes to a four-year contract — with no opt-out clause — worth $110 million. Two weeks earlier, Neil Walker accepted the Mets’ qualifying offer worth $17.2 million.
While the price tag to retain both players was high, Sandy Alderson sees much value in what these guys bring to the team.
"“But, one of the reasons we ended up with the players that we have coming back is the fact that a lot of them are good players and they all wanted to come back, Alderson stated during an appearance on Baseball Night in New York, which aired on SNY. “And so, there’s something to knowing the player and knowing that player has been comfortable with playing in New York.”"
While it’s great to see these players come back, no significant external players joined the roster. Alderson was also unable to find a trade partner for Jay Bruce, who was acquired last season at the trade deadline as insurance in case Cespedes signed elsewhere in the offseason.
While having Bruce may be beneficial by having another middle-of-the-lineup bat in the starting lineup, it can go either way as Bruce struggled immensely during most of his time in New York. Furthermore, keeping Bruce may hinder Michael Conforto’s development, as the 23-year-old might very well start the season in the minors because of the surplus of outfielders the Mets currently have.
Now onto the biggest question mark surrounding this team: Can the Mets roster avoid the injury bug?
Last season, most of the starting rotation — Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz — all went down with significant injuries. Even Noah Syndergaard pitched with a bone spur, which thankfully didn’t require surgery this offseason. Onto the positional players, Lucas Duda, David Wright and Walker all missed significant time with big injuries last season.
What type of production are the Mets going to get from Jay Bruce? Will the starting rotation stay healthy over the course of the season? Will Wright prove he can still contribute at the major league level? Can Travis d’Arnaud play more than 100 games this season? Can he also showcase why he was once regarded as an “elite” prospect? These are all valid questions the Mets will answer over the course of the upcoming season.
The Mets have a talented roster that’s built to win now. But it’s also a team with a bunch of what-ifs. And it’s mainly hinging on how these players will bounce back from injuries. If this roster can stay away from any extended trips to the disabled list, it’ll be an exciting season.