With the currently scheduled MLB start date fast approaching, the New York Mets still have some holes to fill on their talented roster. Despite having a roster that features star power such as Francisco Lindor, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Pete Alonso, and others, it is health and some of the depth and under-the-radar players that are the true keys to the team's success.
If the team is able to fill out the remainder of its roster, they can be a significant contender in the National League. However, those previously mentioned star players are expected to produce, it is the unsung heroes that could be difference-makers, that can truly put the Mets over the top this season. The following players are the under-the-radar options who could be X-factors for the Mets this season.
1. NY Mets Catcher Tomás Nido
Despite going out and signing James McCann to a four-year contract, worth $40 million last offseason, he did not run away with the starting catcher job. McCann entered the year as the unquestioned starter, and despite playing nearly every game early on in the season, his disappointing season left the door open for Tomás Nido to earn plenty of playing time.
While neither player impressed with the bat last season, both displayed the ability to throw out baserunners at a reasonable clip, and the team will be hoping they can get high quality defensive play out of whoever is behind the plate. Due to neither showing any consistent ability to make an impact on the offensive side, it is very likely the team rides the hot hand, and whichever of the two is swinging a hotter bat gets the lions-share of playing time until he cools off.
Thus, while McCann will enter the season as the starter due to the money the team has tied up to him, don't be surprised if the two catchers split playing time fairly evenly. This could be beneficial for all parties involved, as it will allow the Mets to get whichever catcher is hitting better at a given time, and it will also push both catchers to perform at their very best. And, most importantly, it will keep both catchers fresh, as neither will be burned out by the end of the season, after being forced to catch six games a week consistently. Having each of them fresh will be beneficial for the playoffs, when the team will ensure they have a catcher who is fresh and can truly ride the hot hand.
The team expressed a willingness to sit McCann in favor of Nido late in the season last year when Nido was swinging a hot bat, and their is no reason to believe they won't do the same this season. It is for that reason, that while Nido may not be a highly touted player, he could play a crucial role this season for the Mets if they are to make a deep playoff run.