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Young talent headlines Mets' projected lineup

Rosario set for first full season; Conforto expected to return in April
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

NEW YORK -- The Mets continue to actively monitor the free agent and trade markets, poised to make at least a few key additions before Spring Training, now merely a month away. High atop the shopping list: a veteran first baseman/outfield type and an everyday second baseman. This means the Opening Day lineup in Flushing could look fairly different than the one projected today.

As it stands now, the Mets' lineup would be comprised entirely of players who concluded 2017 with the club, just in more pronounced roles. That means more opportunity -- and responsibility -- for several young players who debuted last season.

NEW YORK -- The Mets continue to actively monitor the free agent and trade markets, poised to make at least a few key additions before Spring Training, now merely a month away. High atop the shopping list: a veteran first baseman/outfield type and an everyday second baseman. This means the Opening Day lineup in Flushing could look fairly different than the one projected today.

As it stands now, the Mets' lineup would be comprised entirely of players who concluded 2017 with the club, just in more pronounced roles. That means more opportunity -- and responsibility -- for several young players who debuted last season.

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Amed Rosario, SS
Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Dominic Smith, 1B
Brandon Nimmo, RF
Juan Lagares, CF
Travis d'Arnaud, C
Gavin Cecchini, 2B

STRENGTH
Conspicuously absent from that projection is Michael Conforto, who blossomed into the Mets' best hitter last season before dislocating his left shoulder in August. The left-handed hitter, who throws from the right side, underwent surgery in September to repair the shoulder. He is doubtful for Opening Day, but hopes to make his season debut at some point in April. When Conforto returns, the No. 3-No. 4 pairing of Conforto and Cespedes should rival any such duo in the National League.

Video: ARI@NYM: Conforto crushes solo homer in the 10th

QUESTION MARK
With their initial auditions under their belts, Rosario and Smith should get every opportunity to seize regular spots in the Mets' order. But both are still entering their first full big league seasons. Nimmo, who will be tasked with partially offsetting the loss of Conforto, has never broken camp with the club. Cecchini is a rookie with fewer than 90 career at-bats.

At the moment, New York projects to give nearly half its plate appearances to rookie or second-year players. The team's biggest questions will center around that inexperience.

Video: Mets Dominic Smith reflects on 2017, what he learned

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
The market has been slow to develop this offseason, and many expect a flurry of transactions in the weeks leading up to Spring Training. In all likelihood, the Mets will make a few themselves.

Hot Stove Tracker

New York seeks a right-handed corner type who can provide thump off the bench, push Smith and help safeguard him against lefties. Mike Napoli, Adrian Gonzalez, Adam Lind and Logan Morrison have reportedly caught the Mets' eye, though the latter three hit left-handed. The club remains more likely to target veteran role players of this ilk than, say, reunite with Jay Bruce, or complete a haul for Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, though they've been linked in rumors to both recently.

Without acquiring a second baseman, the club would enter the 2018 season with three players able to play the position, but without one it views as a full-time solution: Cecchini, Wilmer Flores and Cabrera. The Mets are also open to a reunion with free agent Jose Reyes. Another option is adding via trade, perhaps swinging a deal for Josh Harrison.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

 

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