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Active Mets still have plenty to do before spring

December 19, 2018

NEW YORK -- Even in the months since the season ended, it's been an eventful year for the Mets. Disappointed by their fourth-place finish in the National League East, the team hired a new general manager and began importing all sorts of new players, from Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz

NEW YORK -- Even in the months since the season ended, it's been an eventful year for the Mets. Disappointed by their fourth-place finish in the National League East, the team hired a new general manager and began importing all sorts of new players, from Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to Jeurys Familia and Wilson Ramos.
Yet they still have plenty to do in the New Year. With Spring Training still a month and a half into the future, here's a look at the Mets' to-do list between now and the report date for pitchers and catchers:

1. Add pitching depth
There's no doubt the Mets feature one of the best rotations in baseball, and after adding Diaz and Familia, they also feel they boast one of the game's better bullpens. But the team still needs depth in both areas. In particular, the Mets must find arms to complement Seth Lugo and Corey Oswalt, who currently profile as their sixth and seventh rotation options -- and they've made it clear they'd really rather keep Lugo in the bullpen. Last year, the Mets asked 12 different pitchers to start games for them, which is about average. They would do well to add to their current mix before Spring Training.

In the bullpen, the Mets need a left-hander beyond Daniel Zamora, who impressed as a rookie but can't be their only option against Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman and the game's other top left-handed sluggers. They may not have the budget to acquire Andrew Miller or Zach Britton, but the Mets can still add a lefty to the group they have in-house.
2. Finalize the outfield
Michael Conforto will probably be the Mets' Opening Day left fielder, and Brandon Nimmo should be in right. But who plays center field? Will it be Juan Lagares, who missed nearly all of last season after suffering yet another injury? Might the Mets spring for A.J. Pollock, the top right-handed-hitting outfielder available through free agency? Could they acquire a lower-tier center fielder, or perhaps a corner outfielder who would push Nimmo to center? Prices often come down in the New Year, particularly for free agents.
While the Mets can certainly run with their current outfield alignment on Opening Day, there's a sense they're not entirely content with it. January will offer them opportunities to improve.
3. Make a plan for first base
If Peter Alonso rakes in Spring Training, it's going to be awkward. Alonso has already proven he deserves a shot in the Majors, but service-time rules disincentivize the Mets from calling him up before mid-April, when they can guarantee a seventh year of team control (just like the Cubs and Kristopher Bryant, or the Braves and Ronald Acuna Jr.). The Mets need a plan to handle the situation regardless of whether Alonso, who hit .285 with 36 homers in the Minors this past season, proves worthy of an Opening Day job.

Maybe the Mets will ignore the incentive and install Alonso at first base, as general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has suggested. Or perhaps the team will send Alonso to Triple-A Syracuse for a couple of weeks -- but then who will start ahead of him? What if Dominic Smith struggles for a second consecutive spring? Can Jeff McNeil prove proficient enough at first to play every day in early April? Is Travis d'Arnaud an answer there, now that Ramos is the starting catcher? These are things the Mets must start thinking about before arriving in Port St. Lucie.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.