An early look at the Mets' 26-man roster
We are about a week from Mets pitchers and catchers reporting to Port St. Lucie, with their first official workout of spring training to follow on Feb. 15.
Among the themes of camp: There do not appear to be a whole lot of jobs to be won. At this early stage, without knowing the March surprise trade/injury/hot streak that every preseason seems to bring, the Mets’ Opening Day roster looks mostly straightforward.
Here is our best educated guess at what it’ll look like:
RH Max Scherzer, RH Justin Verlander, RH Kodai Senga, LH Jose Quintana, RH Carlos Carrasco
About the only intrigue here is whether manager Buck Showalter will choose Scherzer or Verlander for the season opener.
Last year, Scherzer deferred to Jacob deGrom, the homegrown, fan-favorite incumbent ace. (And then deGrom got hurt again, rendering it a moot point.) Now, with Verlander and Scherzer leading the rotation and known to be competitive with each other during their time with the Tigers, it’ll be interesting to track who is lined up for Opening Day.
The next two men up are David Peterson and Tylor Megill. The Mets plan to roll with a traditional five-man rotation but have discussed being aggressive in slotting in a sixth when desired. With a funky start to the season — games on eight consecutive days, a highly unusual run — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see, say, Peterson get the ball during that first road trip.
C Omar Narvaez, 1B Pete Alonso, 2B Jeff McNeil, 3B Eduardo Escobar, SS Francisco Lindor, LF Mark Canha, CF Brandon Nimmo, RF Starling Marte, DH Daniel Vogelbach
Again, no surprises here — and barely any changes. Narvaez behind the plate is the only tweak from the late 2022 version.
DH and catcher look as if they’ll be platoon situations to open the year, so Vogelbach and Narvaez — lefthanded hitters and therefore the recipients of most of the at-bats in a platoon — get the nod at their respective spots, even though they’ll probably be on the bench a couple of times per week.
Notably, two of the Mets’ top prospects, catcher Francisco Alvarez and third baseman Brett Baty, are not here. The Mets’ offseason moves suggest they are comfortable letting that pair continue to develop in the minors come April. Wouldn’t it be fun, though, if at least one has a scorching exhibition season to make the Mets think real hard about it?
IF Luis Guillorme, C Tomas Nido, OF Tommy Pham, 1B/OF/DH Darin Ruf
The Mets seem ready to run back the Vogelbach/Ruf DH duo, putting more stock in Ruf’s career norms than his two terrible months with the team last season. The twist, though, is the presence of Pham. He hits lefthanded pitchers well and could win some of that DH playing time from Ruf.
The above group does not include a backup centerfielder. If the Mets want or need to give Nimmo a day off, they’ll have to turn to Canha, as they did on occasion last year, or Marte, whom they specifically did not want to use in center last year.
Bullpen — the locks (5)
RH Edwin Diaz, RH Adam Ottavino, RH David Robertson, LH Brooks Raley, RH Drew Smith
General manager Billy Eppler recently said the Mets desire a quintet of reliable back-end arms. Here it is.
“What we’d love to have is five high-leverage relievers,” he said. “If we’ve identified five high-leverage relievers, that helps you over 162 games so . . . it’s less likely to run into the days where four are down on the same day. That’s tough when you want to navigate a full season.”
Bullpen — remaining (3)
RH Stephen Nogosek, RH Zach Greene, LH Joey Lucchesi
Nogosek gets first dibs on one of these slots because he posted a 2.45 ERA across a dozen appearances (22 innings) in a difficult role last year and because he is out of minor-league options.
The Mets need to carry Greene, a Rule 5 pick from the Yankees, on the active roster (or injured list) or risk losing him to another team/giving him back to the Yankees.
The 26th spot is the one most likely to change frequently. If the Mets want a long reliever/emergency starter, the options probably are Lucchesi and Elieser Hernandez. Lucchesi, who will be almost two years removed from Tommy John surgery by Opening Day, has the better track record.
If the Mets are comfortable without a long man, their options include John Curtiss, Bryce Montes de Oca, Stephen Ridings, Jeff Brigham and others, many of whom are likely to cycle through the majors at some point this year.
Pitchers, catchers report: On or about Feb. 14
First workout: On or about Feb. 15
Full squad reports: On or about Feb. 19
First workout: On or about Feb. 20
First spring game: Feb. 25 (SS) at Astros, 1:05 p.m.; vs. Marlins, 6:10 p.m.
Opening Day: March 30 at Marlins, 4:10 p.m.