As 2017 draws to a close, plenty of questions still surround a Mets team that has made just one major signing this offseason, inking Anthony Swarzak to a two-year deal. Teams tend to stay quiet during the holidays, so while we wait for the Mets to make their next move, here's a fresh batch of questions and answers:
What is the likelihood of the Mets signing Jose Reyes if they cannot acquire a second baseman? Do you see this as the best option if they can't pull off a trade?
-- @jgrossman90 via Twitter
In a perfect world, the Mets will acquire one of the second basemen still available on the trade market, such as Jason Kipnis or Josh Harrison. But if the Mets can't strike a deal in the coming weeks, the 34-year-old Reyes certainly does lead a short list of fallback options.
Although Reyes' camp has stayed quiet regarding his status, he has made it clear that he wants to return to the Mets, going as far as to indicate he might take less money to stay. And while Reyes does not have much experience at second base (New York's experiment to accommodate Kazuo Matsui 13 years ago notwithstanding), the Mets thought enough of his recent play there to consider him an option going forward.
One of the few things that might prevent a reunion would be if Neil Walker's market craters to the extent that the Mets consider bringing him back on a cheap deal. But even if that happens, Reyes would be the more affordable option. I can easily see a scenario in which he's the Opening Day second baseman.
:: Submit a question to the Mets Inbox ::
Will the Mets sign a veteran starting pitcher?
-- @Grossed_Out via Twitter
When asked about acquiring a starter at the Winter Meetings, general manager Sandy Alderson quipped that it was fourth on a list of three agenda items. The Mets simply don't have the budget required to add a reliever, second baseman, first baseman and starting pitcher.
If the price of, say, Jason Vargas falls in January, it's possible the Mets could begin negotiating. But considering the demand for even low-level starters around the league, it's difficult to see that happening.
What can we realistically expect from Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo in 2018? Will both of them open the season on the Major League roster?
-- @mariamb18 via Twitter
I would be shocked if Nimmo is not on the Opening Day roster, simply because I expect Michael Conforto's recovery from shoulder surgery to linger beyond Opening Day. Assuming that's the case, Nimmo will spend most days starting in center or right -- with a chance to prove he deserves to stay even after Conforto returns.
I would also be surprised -- though not nearly to the same extent -- if Smith is not around. The Mets very much want Smith to win the starting first base job this spring, regardless of whom they sign to compete with him. But a bad spring would be just the push the Mets need to send Smith back to the Minors until he does enough to warrant a return.
Is Juan Lagares in the Mets plans? Could he be a trade piece for a second baseman?
-- @MikeSlush via Twitter
Yes and yes. Lagares is very much in the Mets' plans as a right-handed complement to Nimmo. The team has high hopes that its Gold Glove center fielder can stay healthier than in seasons past, while Lagares believes an offseason spent working with J.D. Martinez's swing coach, Craig Wallenbrock, will do wonders for his offense.
However, teams have reportedly asked about Lagares and the Mets may consider dealing him if it means bringing back an everyday second baseman. Lagares has upside, but he's not indispensable. Due $15.5 million the next two seasons, he's also no longer cheap as a bench option.
How good of a chance do the Mets have to sign Jay Bruce?
-- @17Riegel via Twitter
I wouldn't count on it. Bruce's agent recently said that his client would love to sign with the Giants, who appear to have more money to spend than the Mets do on an outfielder. In other words, with all things being equal, Bruce will go elsewhere. And it doesn't seem like all things are equal.
Of the relievers we got in trades last year, which are best bets to start the year in the Major League 'pen? Jamie Callahan and Jacob Rhame?
-- @Nick_Karasimas via Twitter
You'd have to give a major edge to those two simply because they spent time in the big leagues last season, whereas the others have virtually no combined experience above Class A ball. Drew Smith is probably closest, having briefly made it to Triple-A last summer. But he's not as advanced as Callahan or Rhame.
There is, of course, a chance that none of them make the Opening Day bullpen. You can write in the names of Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins and Swarzak in ink, and can probably pencil in Hansel Robles and Paul Sewald behind them. That leaves two spots for Callahan, Rhame, Kevin McGowan, Josh Smoker, Rafael Montero (who is out of options), Chasen Bradford and others. It's a crowded group, which isn't a bad thing. Expect some healthy Spring Training competition.