PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- When asked Thursday why he's pleased to have Devin Mesoraco back with the Mets this spring, manager Mickey Callaway quipped: "Jacob deGrom."
There's no denying the comfort level deGrom established with Mesoraco last season, throwing to him during nearly every one of his second-half starts. Then they went their separate ways: While deGrom spent his offseason basking in a National League Cy Young Award, Mesoraco waded through free agency with his health in question. The Mets seemed to leave Mesoraco in the past, signing Wilson Ramos as a starter and keeping Travis d'Arnaud in house as his backup. But less than a week before the start of Spring Training, Mesoraco's agent called the Mets to consummate a deal that had been on the table for much of the offseason.:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
By signing a Minor League contract, Mesoraco gives the Mets insurance behind the oft-injured Ramos and d'Arnaud. He also gives deGrom another trusted coworker.
"That was a big reason why I wanted to come back was just the familiarity," said Mesoraco, who ripped 10 homers in 66 games for the Mets last season. "I think some people here know what I can bring to the table. I don't have to learn a new pitching staff, so that will help. We can build on the things we were doing last year."
Realistically, Mesoraco will open this season at Triple-A Syracuse. While Callaway said he is comfortable with the idea of having three catchers on his 25-man roster, he also said he won't expose d'Arnaud to first base, left field or other positions this spring. That limits the value of carrying a third catcher at the expense of pinch-hiting options like J.D. Davis or T.J. Rivera.
But even if he spends a significant chunk of the season in the Minors, Mesoraco will always be an injury away from returning to the big leagues. Now healthy himself after receiving an epidural in his neck last September, Mesoraco aims to contribute, whether by catching a few of deGrom's starts or in some other way.
• deGrom: "I want to be part of this team's future"
"I feel like that's a lot of a catcher's job, is to help the pitchers out," Mesoraco said. "Jake had his best year. Whether that was a very small portion of me or none of me, I don't know. But I'm happy that Jake was successful. I'm happy that Zack Wheeler was successful. I'm happy that [Steven Matz] had a good year. That definitely means a lot to me."
Outfield taking shape
Callaway offered further clarity on his outfield situation on Thursday, noting that Jeff McNeil will receive the bulk of his reps in left and probably won't see much time -- if any -- in center.
"His skill set, what's he's going to bring arm-wise and things like that, it's going to play in left field the most," Callaway said. "We'll stick to that for now, get him comfortable with those angles. It's tricky to be moving around, not only for outfielders that have been out there, but for a guy learning the position to get used to the way the ball moves off the bat when you're switching them back and forth from left to right to center. I think we'll concentrate on left for now."
That means the Mets' regular outfield against right-handed pitchers will be McNeil in left, Brandon Nimmo in center and Michael Conforto in right. Versus lefties, the Mets will sub out at least one of those three in favor of a natural center fielder, either Juan Lagares or Keon Broxton.
Spring future in doubt
The Mets had hoped to complete a $55 million renovation of First Data Field by the start of this spring, but escalating construction costs pushed back that timetable. Now, according to the TC Palm newspaper group, the club is considering nixing the deal and finding a new spring site if an updated monetary agreement can't be reached.
The Mets have committed an additional $2 million to the project, according to TC Palm, but the renovation is now expected to cost close to $80 million. As a result, the two sides may only complete two-thirds of the originally proposed renovations; they are negotiating which aspects will be cut. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Mets could look to train elsewhere in Florida for the first time since 1987.