Mets infielder Francisco Lindor before a spring game against the...

Mets infielder Francisco Lindor before a spring game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday March 20, 2022 at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jeff McNeil might make or break the Mets’ season. Both played well below their career standards last year — and at times didn’t get along with each other — and are at the top of the list of Mets hitters who need to rebound.

This season marks the start of Lindor’s 10-year, $341 million contract agreed to a year ago. He needs to provide more than Gold Glove-caliber defense, which he still flashes regularly, to be worth his salary. McNeil could reach his elusive goal of sticking to one position. He has moved around the infield and outfield in recent years, but the Mets seem content with him as the everyday choice at second base.

GRADE: B+   

CORNER INFIELDERS

First baseman Pete Alonso is, in his own words last summer, “the best power hitter on the planet.” But third baseman Eduardo Escobar, who has averaged more than 25 homers per season in the past four full seasons, should provide a nice supplement after joining the Mets on a two-year, $20 million deal.

The corner infield spots might be the Mets’ deepest positions, too. If Alonso is unavailable, Dominic Smith will step in. If there is a need at third, J.D. Davis and McNeil are options.

GRADE: A-

OUTFIELD

The Mets’ new-look outfield features should-be leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo plus newcomers Starling Marte and Mark Canha, three solid offensive players who can play all three positions. They spent more than $100 million — mostly on Marte, who signed for four years, and the rest on Canha, who is under contract for two — to revamp this part of the roster and replace Michael Conforto.

GRADE: A-

CATCHER

This is the Mets’ weakest spot on the diamond. James McCann had a bad debut season with the team in 2021, hitting .232 with a .643 OPS — a steep dropoff from the numbers he posted with the White Sox in the previous two years, which earned him a four-year, $40.6 million deal with the Mets. He hopes to rebound, but his career track record looks a lot more like 2021 than 2019-20, so this might be what he is.

And then there is Tomas Nido, a homegrown defensive-minded backup who earned an even split of the playing time at points last season. If that is a discussion again this year, things will not be going well for McCann.

GRADE: C-

DH/BENCH

For years, the Mets have been built like a team with a DH. Finally, they can use one.

Davis, Smith and Robinson Cano — in some combination — are expected to get the majority of the DH at-bats. They were everyday players in the recent past but have been squeezed out by offseason additions. Davis and Smith struggled when hurt last year but say they are healthy now. Cano didn’t play at all in 2021 while serving his second PED-related suspension.

Chances are at least part of this trio emerges as a deserving DH and bolsters the Mets’ lineup.

Expected to fill out the bench are Nido, sure-handed infielder Luis Guillorme and an outfielder to be named.

GRADE: B+   

BULLPEN

If pride and team performance aren’t enough, the Mets’ core relievers have another source of motivation: money. Ed- win Diaz (closer), Trevor May, Seth Lugo, spring training signing Adam Ottavino and spring training trade acquisition Joely Rodriguez are scheduled to be free agents after this season. So if watching these guys try to protect leads stresses you out, know that if it goes poorly, the Mets can start from scratch next time.  GRADE: B