The New York Mets stand to lose several key players to free agency after the upcoming season which makes contention vital in 2017.
Snow may still be in the forecast but that doesn’t limit the visibility to see baseball nearing on the horizon. Pitchers and catchers report to their Spring Training complexes in under a week while Opening Day remains less than two months away. The New York Mets will enter 2017 with championship aspirations and for good reason.
The Mets return a roster that won 87 games while being decimated with injuries to nearly every key position imaginable. The 2017 roster is likely to mirror last season’s, though, that’s likely to change next winter. Uncertainty could define 2018, thus leaving the Mets to take an all-in approach when Arpil rolls around.
Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Jose Reyes, Addison Reed, and Asdrubal Cabrera (among a few others) all are set to hit unrestricted free agency after 2017 ends. While it’s conceivable that some may return, it’s unlikely the band returns in full capacity next year, making 2017 all the more important to contend.
The Mets are likely putting serious faith in their minor league talent by all estimations. It’s plausible that Michael Conforto assumes a full time outfield rule after Bruce and Granderson depart. It’s also very possible that Sandy Alderson turns to top prospect Amed Rosario to be the everyday shortstop and to Dominic Smith to anchor first base.
If the Mets are going to entrust the youth to produce like cornerstone players, it places serious value on making a run into October this coming season. There’s no guarantee their prospects, no matter how highly touted, instantly find success at that big league level.
The New York Mets are a club built on pitching, namely the starting rotation. As long as the rotation maintains good, not even great health, the team will be expected to contend. The pressure on the young players to produce will be immense and potentially overwhelming. Numerous prospect reports rave over Smith and Roasario, as they did over Conforto a few years ago. Still, that does not guarantee success.
Coversely, the prospects Sandy Alderson has been so reluctant to trade, could be instant hits and give the Mets inexpensive assets for the long term. Neither you or I have a crystal ball, but the mostly veteran presence the club currently maintains makes winning in 2017 all the more crucial.
The number of veterans soon departing also means significant salary coming off the books after the season. This could be a reason why the club’s payroll has steadily increased this offseason to over $150 million. While that still isn’t among the top clubs in the MLB, it represents a notable rise compared to 2015 when payroll hovered just over $100 million on Opening Day.
While the Mets could still be positioned well for the long term, it’s evident that 2017 is a target year for going all-in.