An Early New York Mets Offseason Plan That Includes Finding a Real Centerfielder 1
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 11: Michael Conforto #30, Amed Rosario #1, and Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets celebrate after a three run home run hit by Cespedes in the top of the third inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 11, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The 2017 season hasn’t gone according to plan for the New York Mets. With the team looking toward 2018, so are we. Here’s what a busy offseason could find the lineup looking like next Opening Day.

Speaking of Opening Day, over 50 percent of the team’s 25-man roster to begin the 2017 season is either inactive or no longer with the club. While that might signal a rebuild, the Mets are retooling for a deep run in 2018.

Assuming everyone stays healthy, here’s what the roster heading into the offseason looks like:

The Mets have multiple needs to address. General manager Sandy Alderson has his work cut out for him. He also has a lot of money coming off the books, giving him some much-needed flexibility.

Here’s how the team can go about filling those needs.

Center Field

BOSTON, MA – JULY 29: Lorenzo Cain #6 of the Kansas City Royals hits a home run to right field in the top of the fourth inning during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 29, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

First thing’s first, the Mets need to find a legitimate center fielder. Conforto is a fantastic ballplayer, but his natural position is not center field, and putting him there hurts the team.

Luckily for the Mets, there is a natural center fielder set to hit the open market. One who hits for average, steals bases, plays above-average defense and won’t break the bank: Lorenzo Cain.

Signing Cain would check a lot of boxes for the Mets. A three-year, $50 million deal (with incentives) should be enough to get the 31-year-old signed.

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Third Base

The Mets need to assume that David Wright will not be the everyday third basemen in 2018. Finding a solution at the hot corner is a necessity.

Wilmer Flores has shown that the more he plays, the better he gets. He’s shown enough at third base this season to get a chance to stay there full-time. With Flores at third base, the Mets should re-sign recently traded Neil Walker to a one-year deal.

Walker was not only a fan favorite but a real leader in the clubhouse. He will give the Mets another reliable, proven bat in the middle of the order.

Now, the plan for third base should not be with just 2018 in mind. With the Mets having so many inexpensive young players on the roster, the Mets need to break the bank for Manny Machado after the 2018 season.

Re-signing Walker and keeping Flores at third doesn’t solve the third base problem for years to come. Signing Machado would.

Bullpen

ATLANTA, GA – JUNE 11: Addison Reed #43 of the New York Mets throws a ninth inning pitch against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 11, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

A shaky bullpen was one of the Mets downfalls in 2017. With Familia, Ramos, Blevins, and Sewald on board, the Mets have a solid group heading into 2018.

But pitching is often the difference in October. If the Mets are serious about contending next season, they need to sign another reliable arm.

The Mets should re-sign Addison Reed.

Like Walker, Reed already fits in and has proved he can succeed in NY.

A bullpen consisting of Familia as the closer, with Reed, Ramos, and Blevins serving as the bridge, has the potential to be dangerous.

Starting Pitching

After the injury fiasco that decimated the Mets starters, the club needs a reliable veteran starter. Consistently sending out guys like Rafael Montero, Chris Flexen, Tommy Milone and Tyler Pill is not going to get the job done.

Jaime Garcia, Jason Vargas, and Lance Lynn are three veteran starters who will be free agents and should be on the Mets’ radar.

You can never have too much pitching.

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Jose Reyes

The Mets need to bring Jose Reyes back in the offseason.

No, not to be a starter. But he can play three infield positions, provides speed off the bench, and turned it around at the plate in the second half of the season. He’s also incredibly close with Rosario.

As long as Reyes is willing to take a minimal salary, the Mets should jump all over the chance to keep him in uniform. Especially with a number of veterans departing, including Asdrubal Cabrera and Curtis Granderson, neither of whom the team will keep around.

If the Mets follow this reasonable and realistic plan, here is what the starting lineup should look like:

  1. CF Lorenzo Cain
  2. SS Amed Rosario
  3. RF Michael Conforto
  4. LF Yoenis Cespedes
  5. 2B Neil Walker
  6. 1B Dominic Smith
  7. 3B Wilmer Flores
  8. C Travis d’Arnaud

This lineup has a very good combination of contact, speed, and power. Combine that with a (hopefully healthy rotation, a strong bullpen and a deep bench, and the Mets should reach the postseason.

For the first time in a long time, the Mets would be a complete team.

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