Improvement on Mets' agenda at Meetings
NEW YORK -- The Mets are coming off a season in which they won 90 games, made the playoffs for the first time in nine years and advanced to their first World Series in a decade and a half.
Now they have to figure out how to improve through a Hot Stove process that should accelerate during next week's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
MLB.com and MLB Network will provide wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel, with the Network launching 35 hours of live coverage on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 11 a.m. ET and the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. ET.
This year, general manager Sandy Alderson's to-do list revolves around a lineup that suddenly sports holes where second baseman Daniel Murphy and center fielder Yoenis Cespedes once stood. A quick fix for many of the Mets' problems would be to acquire jack-of-all-trades Ben Zobrist, and the Mets appear primed to continue pursuing the Nashville resident in his hometown. But plenty of other teams are keen on Zobrist, potentially forcing the Mets to look toward alternate plans.
Should the Mets lose Zobrist to another suitor, they could check in on free-agent shortstop Ian Desmond, though that marriage is unlikely given his lack of versatility. They could also look to take on salary in a trade for a middle infielder, and could even circle back to Murphy if other acquisitions don't transpire.
In any event, expect the Mets to pursue two other items in Nashville: a left-handed center fielder to pair with Juan Lagares, and a lefty reliever to help set up closer Jeurys Familia. To date this offseason, the Mets have made no big league acquisitions, instead gauging the market for Zobrist and others, but they know that must change, and soon.
"We can't simply rely on our starting pitchers," Alderson said last month, referring to a rotation that will once again star Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Jon Niese. "We understand that. We have to figure out ways to score more, and at the same time be better defensively as well."
Arbitration raises for Harvey, Familia, Lucas Duda and others will constrain what the Mets are capable of doing, given that they appear unwilling to expand payroll to any great extent next season. So they may need to be creative with their offseason deals, uncovering plenty of stones in the trade market as well.
For now, with the Meetings approaching, so much revolves around Zobrist. Whether the Mets acquire him will dictate much of what they do in Nashville and beyond as they look to improve the most exciting Mets team in years.