For the most part, Brodie Van Wagenen's roster is set. However, within it, he'll need to make some decisions.
Third Base and Left Field
Jeff McNeil recently told the Daily News that he expects to play third base this season. I suspect this in large part is depended on what is happening this spring training in left field and if Jed Lowrie is healthy and productive.
In a world where J.D. Davis stumbles and Yoenis Cespedes isn't ready for action, McNeil may be needed back in left field, at which point Lowrie will need to take the hot corner. Ideally, Cespedes is bathing in the Fountain of Youth and Davis is crushing home runs. In that scenario, McNeil gets third and all of a sudden Luis Rojas has too may outfielders.
The point is, while the players are in place, there are a variety of paths it could take to switch up the outcome.
The Back of the Rotation
Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman are a lock for the rotation. In the end, I see Rick Porcello and Steven Matz being next in line, but it's always possible Michael Wacha impresses coaches in camp.
Wacha had a terrible 2019, which followed an injury-shortened 2018. Prior to that, though, he had been a reliable, consistent mid-rotation starting pitcher, including an All-Star appearance with the Cardinals in 2015.
He pitched five games in relief for St. Louis. Otherwise, he's been a starting pitcher his entire career.
The thing is, even if Wacha is terrific this spring, I'm not sure it will matter.
Porcello was signed to a one-year, $11 million deal, so it's safe to assume he'll be in the rotation. And Matz is coming off back-to -back seasons of at least 150 innings and 30 starts, during which he got better year over year. Also, Matz is 28 years old, he's a free agent after 2021 and set up well to have the breakout season. Matz has to be in the rotation.
Wacha will have to deal with bouncing around roles, I think. He's a veteran, he'll be fine.
The pitcher I'm more concerned about is Lugo, who, from what I understand, is growing quite disappointed by being kept as a reliever when he believes he can pitch every fifth day in the rotation. He's just so, so good as a reliever, though. I don't blame the Mets for what they're doing, though I don't blame Lugo for wanting more.
"It's good to have depth," Matz recently said, according to MLB.com. "It's a good situation for us to be in."
Speaking of Lugo, who is the closer?
Edwin Diaz has the most saves under his belt, so it's assumed he'll be Rojas's go-to, high-leverage reliever. However, Diaz is also coming off a brutally bad season, during which he lost total command of his slider and gave up way, way too many home runs. There's reason to believe he'll get his game under control. Until that happens, though, I don't think it's a lock that he'll be the team's closer in Opening Day.
If not Diaz, Rojas will be able to turn to Lugo and Dellin Betances, who was signed earlier this winter.
Lugo, with a 2.70 ERA with a 0.90 WHIP, took over for Diaz during the playoff hunt at the end of last season. He's more than capable of being as good as anyone in that role. Similarly, while Betances missed the majority of last season due to injury, he had been one of game's best relievers when healthy. He never has been his team's most prominent, go-to closer, but he could be with the Mets.
Ordinarily this would not be a big deal, but it is for this year's Mets.
Wilson Ramos, 32, has had some really good seasons, some really bad seasons and all sorts of seasons in between. Along those same lines, he struggled early last season, after which he got hot, had a league-best hitting streak and finished strong enough to give hope for 2020.
And then there's Syndergaard...
According to reports, Syndergaard complained to coaches about Ramos needing to do a better job framing pitches received down in the strike zone. Rene Rivera, who spent last season with the Mets and was re-signed last month, has a terrific track record catching Syndergaard.
In 2016, Syndergaard most often pitched to Rivera, who was the backup to Travis d'Arnaud. Together, Rivera helped Syndergaard have his best season to date. Overall, the battery has a 2.65 ERA and 205 strikeouts during 180 innings and 30 starts. Last season, while Syndergaard had 5.20 ERA in 16 games with Ramos behind the plate, he had a 2.80 ERA and struck out 16 batters in 12.2 innings pitching to Ramos.
Nido is fine, I'm interested to see C Ali Sanchez get a look, but - in the end - if for no other reason than to lift up Syndergaard - I hope Rivera gets the back-up job.
The batting order
The team's three best hitters should always be at the top of the lineup so they get to hit as many times as possible. Therefore, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil need to kick things off each day.
After that, Rojas will have some decisions to make...
Ideally, the Mets this offseason would have added a big hitter, such as Kris Bryant, to bat cleanup behind Alonso. Sadly, that did not and probably won't happen.
Therefore, Robinson Cano, J.D. Davis and Wilson Ramos should expect to be shuffled around the middle of the order, which leaves Brandon Nimmo, the pitcher and Amed Rosario to make up the bottom.
No matter how Rojas handles it, he'll have above-average lineup. However, it will be among the best in the NL if Cespedes is healthy and rocking and/or Van Wagenen can find a way to add a player like Bryant.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.