With Yoenis Cespedes back in the fold, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said it’s “conceivable” that Alejandro De Aza could be traded before Opening Day, though the club isn’t currently pushing for a deal.
De Aza signed a one-year, $5.75-million deal this winter. At the time, he had been slated to face righties as a platoon partner for Juan Lageres in centerfield.
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But the Mets’ need for his bat has been diminished with Cespedes expected to man centerfield and get some time in leftfield, when Lagares is in the lineup, likely against lefties.
“Juan definitely has a role with us probably coming off the bench, maybe against lefthanded pitching primarily,” Alderson said of Lagares, who signed a long-term deal last spring. “Certainly his defense will get him into most games. De Aza’s situation is less clear.”
Leftfielder Michael Conforto could also play some rightfield during spring training, with the possibility that he emerges as an option to give Curtis Granderson a day off.
Cespedes said he would be willing to play some rightfield as well, though he has played only left and center in the big leagues.
Defensively, Cespedes profiles as a better corner outfielder. But Alderson said it’s possible that Cespedes improves in center now that he’ll get reps there in spring training. That differs from last season when he manned centerfield for the Mets after playing primarily in left with the Tigers.
The Mets left open the possibility of exploring long-term contract extensions with the team’s young starting pitchers during spring training. Retaining the budding stars has emerged as perhaps the most pressing issue for the Mets.
Matt Harvey is due to hit free agency in 2019, with Zack Wheeler to follow in 2020. Jacob deGrom is a free agent in 2021 with Noah Sydnergard behind him in 2022.
Said Alderson: “We certainly want to be in a position to keep some or all of those pitchers . . . I’d love to keep them all.”
The Mets avoided arbitration with closer Jeurys Familia by signing him to a one-year, $4.1-million deal, according to a source. Familia saved 43 games and posted a 1.85 ERA in his first season as the closer. The Mets have reached agreements with all of their arbitration-eligible players . . . To honor the 30th anniversary of their last World Series title, the Mets will wear uniforms from the 1986 season during selected games this season . . . Catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki could see action at different positions during spring training, which would give the Mets more flexibility to keep their bats in the lineup . . . The Mets are targeting a July 1 return date for Wheeler, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery.