With pitchers and catchers reporting to Port St. Lucie, Florida, by Wednesday, here are five keys to Mets spring training:
1. Big deals for big players?
Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto are set to hit free agency after this season. The Mets want to sign both to long-term contracts before then.
Can the Mets get either or both done during camp? A deal for Lindor would far surpass — and maybe more than double — the current largest contract in Mets history, David Wright’s $138 million over eight years. A deal for Conforto also would likely surpass Wright’s.
2. Rotation deliberations
The fifth spot in the Mets’ rotation looks like it will be a good ol’ fashioned spring training job competition (though it remains possible they add another prominent arm). Jordan Yamamoto, Joey Lucchesi and Sean Reid-Foley are among the names to keep an eye on.
3. Outfield roamers
With no designated hitter and no new starting centerfielder, the Mets have Brandon Nimmo penciled in in center and Dominic Smith in left. Those are not the optimal defensive spots for either guy. Can Nimmo improve? And Smith be passable? Acting general manager Zack Scott twice mentioned new outfield coach Tony Tarasco, so the Mets have hope.
4. Who’s on third?
Barring an addition, J.D. Davis seems to be the answer. But maybe Luis Guillorme — who is much sharper defensively and who hit .333/.426/.439 in 29 games last year — can make his case with a strong spring training.
5. As the world turns
Spring training will open — and close — with health-and-safety protocols similar to last season’s. But as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more readily available, the baseball world, like the rest of the world, will inch closer to normal. Might players be able to get vaccinated before Opening Day? What will stadium capacities look like by then?
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