Electrifying ace Noah Syndergaard heads a group that possesses A-plus talent and depth but also brings a checkered injury history. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Robert Gsellman all had offseason surgery, and Matz will miss at least a month with elbow concerns. Zack Wheeler, after two years lost to Tommy John surgery, steps into the rotation to replace Matz. Seth Lugo’s second-half emergence last season gives the Mets a health insurance policy.
Jeurys Familia saved a franchise-record 51 games last season, but he begins the season on suspension for 15 games. In his absence, Addison Reed will close. He’s coming off a season in which he was one of the top relievers in baseball. Jerry Blevins reprises his role as a veteran lefty specialist. Righty Hansel Robles is growing into a threat, and lefty Josh Smoker has a chance to follow with improved command.
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and second baseman Neil Walker give the Mets a steady and experienced tandem. Both play solid defense up the middle and each slammed 23 homers last season. The downside: Both are a year older (31) after enduring a season of lingering injuries. For Cabrera, it was his knee. For Walker, it was his back. Terry Collins must be mindful of keeping those veterans fresh.
Lucas Duda brings prototypical first baseman’s power, though staying on the field remains a major challenge as he enters his free-agent walk year. Jose Reyes brings a speed element to an otherwise plodding lineup, and he showed last year that he has the skills to make a transition to third base. Like Duda, though, injuries have been a constant throughout Reyes’ career. The ability is there, but health issues loom.
Yoenis Cespedes hasn’t been shy about aspirations of producing an MVP-caliber season. Those hopes appear justified. Curtis Granderson remains a productive contributor, though centerfield is no longer his best fit. Jay Bruce’s massive struggles after his trade from the Reds last season obscured the fact that he finished the year with 33 homers. This is not a strong defensive group. But if they hit, it won’t matter much.
It’s now or never for Travis d’Arnaud, the once-promising prospect whose potential has been dampened by his inability to stay on the field. The Mets chose to stick with d’Arnaud, even after trying to trade for veteran Jonathan Lucroy at last year’s trade deadline. But d’Arnaud must rebound from a brutal season to justify that faith. He must iron out his throwing issues and rediscover the form at the plate that made him look like a star in waiting not too long ago.
The Mets have their deepest bench in years. Rene Rivera’s defensive skill set makes him a solid veteran backup. Juan Lagares is a Gold Glove-winning centerfielder. At the very least, he’s a late-game defensive weapon. Wilmer Flores crushes lefties and probably would be capable of more with increased playing time. The Mets could use more experience to fill out the bench, but they have multiple options who will shuttle between the big leagues and Triple-A Las Vegas.