Inbox: What will the Mets' starting OF look like?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers questions from fans

January 18th, 2019

With the signing of , the Mets appear mostly done making offseason acquisitions. While general manager Brodie Van Wagenen freely acknowledges there is room to supplement a few spots on the roster, and while Van Wagenen may still make another transaction or two, the big stuff appears finished.
Still, the questions keep on coming. With less than a month to go until the start of Spring Training, let's take another batch of Mets questions and answers:
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If the Mets do nothing else to address the outfield this offseason, who is the starting center fielder? What does the entire outfield look like?
-- @strngebedfellow via Twitter

That depends on how committed the Mets are to using Jeff McNeil in the outfield, which itself depends at least partly on McNeil's Spring Training performance. I totally understand folks consider it unfair that the Mets have buried McNeil on the depth chart, offering him little chance to receive regular playing time at second or third base. But this is reality. For McNeil to play, he's going to need to play outfield.
That means it's entirely possible the Mets enter the season with, say, McNeil in left, in center and in right (or vice versa on the latter two). Certainly, that would be their best offensive lineup.
On days when the Mets prefer defense, and on days when they're facing a left-handed pitcher, or can start. Those two can also earn additional work with strong springs. I'd consider outfield very much a Spring Training competition for the Mets at this point, with only Conforto and Nimmo guaranteed starting jobs.
What are the chances of trading for either another reliever or outfield option? Is anyone out there interested in him?
-- @erikrlucas via Twitter

Call it slim. Asked this question on Wednesday, Van Wagenen said he fully expects Frazier to be a starter at third or first, even after adding Lowrie to the fold.
While some part of that may be posturing, the reality is that Frazier is more valuable to the Mets than he would be in a trade. Dealing a 32-year-old coming off a career-worst season, in which he twice landed on the disabled list, wouldn't net the Mets much of a return. But hanging onto Frazier and hoping he can rediscover the 40-homer talent he displayed in 2016 could potentially be lucrative. There's little risk in keeping him, considering his contract is guaranteed and his trade market is nonexistent.
How much money can we assume is left in play for Van Wagenen to use?
-- @zissers14 via Twitter

When asked that exact question this week, Van Wagenen declined to answer. But reading between the lines, it appears the Mets are at least close to their budget ceiling heading into Spring Training. After signing Lowrie, they're a few million north of the $151 million payroll they had on the books last Opening Day. I suspect a few million more may be hiding under couch cushions somewhere, but it's not enough wiggle room for another major move.
When is a extension most likely to happen: before, during or after the season?
-- @KonSeanneryy via Twitter

Neither the Mets nor deGrom has publicly set any parameters regarding an extension, but I imagine both parties would want to get something done before the regular season. If they can't agree to a deal in the coming months, it's hard to imagine they'll be able to do so a year from now, with deGrom just one season shy of free agency at that point.
Is Daniel Zamora the favorite to be the lefty out of the 'pen?
-- @GiraffeNeckMarc via Twitter
Yes and no. I'd give Zamora a strong chance to make the Opening Day roster after impressing Mets officials down the stretch last season. But Van Wagenen has made it clear he considers veteran a favorite to make the club as well. As such, I'd expect Avilan to be the Mets' primary lefty specialist, with Zamora serving as a second option.
That leaves , , , and one or two other young right-handers to round out the bullpen.
Van Wagenen talks about Peter Alonso breaking camp with the team. Do you think that is just standard GM talk around a touchy subject, or do you think he can earn a spot with a strong spring?
-- @Dickbobby3307 via Twitter

Do I believe Alonso deserves a chance on the Mets' Opening Day roster? Yes, absolutely. Do I believe he'll make it? No, I don't. The reality is, it's probably not worth it for the Mets to sacrifice an extra year of team control just to have Alonso on the roster two weeks earlier than they otherwise would. So no, I don't ultimately expect him to be there.
Who do we have left in the Minors that can have an impact on 2019 besides Alonso?
-- @KhudNY via Twitter

Does Tim Tebow count? (I'm half-kidding.)
Before the Mets traded away Justin Dunn, I would have led this list with him. Instead, you have to dig deeper for impact prospects. Most of the Mets' most intriguing pitchers are at least a year away. It wouldn't surprise me to see Will Toffey, the third baseman they acquired for Familia last July, or David Thompson make an impact this summer. Relievers Stephen Nogosek, and Ryder Ryan could do the same.
Mets' Top 30 Prospects
Also keep an eye on , one of the pitchers the Mets acquired for . Lockett stands a good chance of starting games in the Majors quite soon.
How about signing Big Sexy to do a few fill-in starts? He can chew up some innings. And he is fun and entertaining. #bringbackbigsexy
-- @Cdog92704 via Twitter

I wouldn't rule it out. Colon reportedly wants to keep pitching at age 45, though he wasn't particularly effective last summer. If Colon is willing to accept little to nothing in the way of guarantees, I'm sure the Mets would consider extending him a Spring Training invite.