PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- All told, 64 players are expected to filter into Mets camp this week and next, one of the largest gatherings the Mets have brought to First Data Field in years. Of those, 18 were not in the organization at the end of last season, including
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- All told, 64 players are expected to filter into Mets camp this week and next, one of the largest gatherings the Mets have brought to First Data Field in years. Of those, 18 were not in the organization at the end of last season, including nine players on the 40-man roster. No matter your preferred calculation, the Mets have turned over about a quarter of their roster in the past three months, leaving the taste of consecutive fourth-place finishes well behind them.
Beginning this week, the Mets will see the tangible fruits of those labors together for the first time. Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz will be here. Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson and J.D. Davis have already arrived. With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Port St. Lucie by the end of day Tuesday, Walker Lockett and Luis Avilán and Wilson Ramos and plenty of others should all be on site.
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Fans need not look far to see new faces at Mets camp, where general manager Brodie Van Wagenen -- a new face himself -- hopes that freshness will translate into more frequent wins. The Mets won't know the true result until April, May or realistically even beyond that. But spring should give them more than merely the whiff of optimism that pervades all 30 clubs this time of year. It should offer them a glimpse into the potential of their rejiggered roster.
"We have not been quiet about our belief in this team," Van Wagenen said. "Our players have expressed the same. And I don't think the fans should look at this offseason any other way than with optimism, hope and belief that we can be a lot better than we were last year, and we can contend."
Over the course of the winter, the Mets made clear that their intention was not to rebuild, nor even to take a modest step forward, but to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016. Complicating that task is the fact that the Braves, Nationals and Phillies all have postseason aspirations as well, and that the latter two teams could still invest in Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado between now and Opening Day. The Mets, for all their offseason action, never seriously pursued either of the top two players available on the open market.
What they did do was acquire an eight-time All-Star second baseman in Cano, perhaps the best closer in baseball in Diaz, one of the game's top offensive catchers in Ramos and two strong relievers in Familia and Wilson, among other bench and depth pieces. Van Wagenen's stated mission was to eliminate "what ifs" on the Mets' roster, stacking proven talent behind proven talent.
Questions remain regarding the Mets' starting-pitching and outfield depth, but there's little doubt that they're an improved club. All the evidence will be out on the practice fields this week.
"The team can be really good," Familia told reporters after arriving in Port St. Lucie. "I think this is our year if everybody is healthy. We want to … win some games."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.