Inbox: How will Ramos affect lineup, roster?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers questions from fans

December 18th, 2018

Happy holidays to everyone out there! Mets fans were able to open some of their presents early, with , , and signing on more than a week before Christmas. But general manager Brodie Van Wagenen says New York is not done. With that in mind, let's dive into the final batch of Inbox questions in 2018:
With Wilson Ramos, that brings our total number of catchers to three. Do you think we will keep and as bench depth, or does one get traded? If traded, do you think either can get the Mets something of value in return?
-- @CobyWanKanobi via Twitter

As far back as the GM Meetings in early November, Van Wagenen noted that other teams have been calling about d'Arnaud and Plawecki. Following the Ramos signing, Van Wagenen said the rate of calls has only increased.
"We'll continue to explore it," Van Wagenen said. "We'll be smart about considering other options."
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Trading d'Arnaud or Plawecki makes sense for the Mets, allowing them to focus resources -- MLB Trade Rumors projects those two to make a combined $5 million in 2019 -- to other areas. While many folks assume the Mets will look to deal Plawecki, who is out of Minor League options, trading d'Arnaud could also make sense. He's older, more expensive and historically less durable, and can entice teams with greater offensive upside.

He's also more versatile, which could be a reason to keep him. Twice this offseason, Van Wagenen has gone out of his way to espouse d'Arnaud athleticism, noting that he is capable of playing both first base and left field. Given that possibility, and the reality that any deal would probably amount to a glorified salary dump, the Mets could keep three catchers on their active roster without issue.
It's a long way of saying I could see this situation playing out either way. If nothing else, the Mets are definitely exploring trade possibilities for d'Arnaud and Plawecki.
Where will Wilson Ramos hit in the lineup? Normally a catcher hits near the bottom of the lineup, but a .300 hitter with decent pop should hit higher in the order.
-- @Studi_Metsimus via Twitter
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<p. because="" bottom="" catchers="" hit="" lineup="" near="" of="" simply="" tend="" the="" they="" to="">Where he hits will depend in large part upon what else the Mets do this offseason, but for the sake of argument, let's say their lineup is mostly set right now. Manager Mickey Callaway has already said that will lead off and Cano will hit third. While it would make sense to stick a right-handed bat between them, New York doesn't really have a hitter who makes sense in that hole. Thus, seems like the right fit to me.</p.>
With three lefties up top, the Mets would almost have to bat a right-hander cleanup. Ramos and are the two candidates, with one batting fourth and the other probably fifth or sixth.
Now, if New York acquires someone like A.J. Pollock, that could change the equation. Pollock would bat second, followed by Cano and probably Conforto, then Ramos in the five hole. Maybe Mets No. 2 prospect Peter Alonso, when he arrives, can serve a similar purpose, but there are no guarantees he'll succeed right away.
In either case, Ramos is a good bet to hit fourth or fifth when he's in the lineup.

What are the chances the Mets sign A.J. Pollock and end up keeping ? We say $9 million is a lot for a fourth outfielder, but Lagares and Pollock are injury prone. Lagares has always been productive WAR-wise when healthy, and produced very well in 2015 playoffs.
-- @cspinella via Twitter

The unlikelihood of carrying Pollock and Lagares seems to be more of a budget issue than a roster issue. The Mets have a payroll number they won't surpass, and there doesn't appear to be enough room on the ledger for New York to employ both players and still fill its other needs. I still think there's a chance the Mets make a run at Pollock, but only if they can shed Lagares in a salary-dump type trade. Already, Van Wagenen is conditioning fans for the possibility that New York is done making significant changes to its everyday lineup.
Do you feel at this point the Mets have met the "win now" mantra, as stated by Brodie Van Wagenen? If not, what would do it for you?
-- @BruckerHaran via Twitter

For me to feel comfortable about the Mets as the class of the National League East, I'd need to see them acquire three things: Pollock (or at least someone close to him), a solid lefty reliever ( looks great, but I'd settle for ) and more starting-pitching depth. Are all of those necessary? No. But they would go a long way toward eliminating the "ifs" Van Wagenen has vowed to eradicate this winter. To that end…

Has Brodie commented on addressing the lack of starting-pitching depth? The top of the rotation is solid but rotation injuries are inevitable. There are a lot of "ifs" behind Oswalt in terms of plug-and-play starters.
-- @AlexWilesTweets via Twitter

Van Wagenen hasn't spoken much about this publicly, but I agree it's an area the Mets need to address. Rule 5 Draft pick Kyle Dowdy added a bit of rotation depth, and the Mets are likely to continue adding to the mix with a Minor League deal or two. It's difficult to stockpile quality in this area, because pitchers good enough to be helpful tend to sign on for guaranteed rotation jobs. New York isn't offering any of those. But it does need arms to supplement , , and others down the depth chart. I suspect they'll add a couple in January.
What are their plans for first base besides Peter Alonso? They need a backup.
-- @Peanut5214 via Twitter

This is one area I actually don't see the Mets fortifying. In addition to Alonso, they have in-house and have talked about using Jeff McNeil and d'Arnaud there, too. also has experience at first and, in a perfect world, Alonso will take the job in mid-April and run with it. If he doesn't, first base is a position that's relatively easy to fix on the fly.

Where in the world is T.J. Rivera, and how do the Mets plan on using him this season?
--@schlambrowski via Twitter

At first base, of course! In all seriousness, Rivera is recovered from Tommy John surgery and expects to report to Spring Training healthy. He'll compete for a bench job, but it may be difficult for him to unseat given the latter's proficiency as a defensive shortstop. It's possible Rivera opens the season in the Minors.

Right now, New York's bench would include d'Arnaud, Plawecki, McNeil, Guillorme and a to-be-determined fourth outfielder -- , perhaps? Rivera may be on the outside looking in.