Projected Opening Day Roster: The New York Mets are healthy, now face roster crunch

The New York Mets have a problem. All of their players are healthy.

Just kidding, well, kind of. The team is going to have a tough time telling players that they are going to be in unfamiliar roles, or heading back to AAA Las Vegas. Here is a breakdown of the Mets and what their Opening Day roster should look like under Terry Collins, who is entering his 7th season at the helm of the club.

Outfield

The Mets acquired Jay Bruce from the Reds last season, resigned Yoenis Cespedes in the offseason and still have Curtis Granderson under contract for 2017. Former first round picks Michael Conforto (who turns 24 next week) and Brandon Nimmo (who will be 24 by opening day) are of the age where it is time for them to either get regular playing time or be used in a trade.

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Michael Conforto should be on the Opening Day roster, even if he does not receive regular playing time. (Photo by slgckgc on flickr)

Oh, and there is Juan Lagares. That gold glove winning outfielder who has battled injuries, consistency at the plate and is signed through the next three seasons. Lagares is set to make $9,000,000 in 2019.

Nimmo should head back to Las Vegas at the end of camp, I’m not sure he will ever turn into a starting Major League outfielder. Conforto is the real deal, and needs to be with the Mets in Queens, even if he is only getting a couple of starts per week. The Mets need to know if he can handle regular playing time, as Bruce and Granderson will likely be wearing a different uniform in 2018.

Who should head north? Cespedes, Granderson, Bruce, Lagares and Conforto (5)

Infield

Three-quarters of the Mets infield struggled to stay healthy last season, with Asdrubal Cabrera being the only one who was able to stay healthy.

David Wright, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker all struggled with injury issues last season, allowing guys like Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes to receive regular playing time.

Former first round pick Gavin Cecchini will be entering his age 23 season, but struggled defensively at shortstop over the last few years.

Guys like Cecchini and T.J. Rivera best serve this organization as role players when there is an injury to the starters. They should begin the year in Vegas, get regular playing time and be ready to go in the event there is an injury. The versatility of Reyes and Flores is also a major plus for the organization.

Who should head north? Duda, Walker, Cabrera, Wright, Flores and Reyes (6)

Catcher

Travis d’Arnaud gave Kevin Plawecki every opportunity to take his job, and he couldn’t do it. Journeyman Rene Rivera seized catching responsibilities for the better half of 2017 and the position is certainly influx for this contender.

Prospect Tomas Nido has a big year ahead of him. If d’Arnaud continues to struggle or can’t stay healthy, the organization may look to Nido (who should get his first look at AA pitching in April) to be the catcher of the future.

Who should head north? d’Arnaud and Rivera (2)

Starting Rotation

Stud after stud, injury after injury. Noah Syndergaard was the only starter that was able to stay healthy through all (most) of 2016 and headlines a staff that claims it is ready to go.

Jacob deGrom has recovered from offseason surgery, as well as Steven Matz and Matt Harvey. Zack Wheeler, who has not pitched in a Major League game since 2014 is reported to be progressing well. Throw in Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and the Mets have plenty of options.

Who should head north? Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz and Gsellman (5)

Bullpen

Much to the surprise of Mets fans, the front office opened their wallet this offseason not only to resign Cespedes but also to ensure that the bullpen remains a strength for the team. Addison Reed was retained and Jerry Blevins was resigned to bolster the back end that will likely be without closer Jeurys Familia for some portion of time to start the season.

Along with the aforementioned triumvirate, the Mets have Hansel Robles, Josh Edgin, Fernando Salas, Josh Smoker, Erik Goeddel and Sean Gilmartin to try and round out the bullpen.

Who should head north? Familia, Reed, Blevins, Wheeler, Robles, Edgin and Salas (7)

The toughest news to break will be to let Wheeler know that he is going to the bullpen. The Mets need to commit to this idea and stick with it throughout the 2017 season in order to get Wheeler back into game shape and competing at the highest level. The Mets are best served with either Gsellman or Lugo at the back end of the rotation (in my opinion, Gsellman) and sending Lugo back to the Minors to stay stretched out until an injury occurs with one of the starting pitchers.

While the ever-smiling Nimmo will not be happy with his demotion, he is an injury away from being called upon to join the Mets.

This organization has depth, experience and a nasty rotation that will compete with the Nationals all year in the NL East.

Projected Starting Line-Up

  1. Granderson (CF)
  2. Cabrera (SS)
  3. Cespedes (LF)
  4. Bruce (RF)
  5. Walker (2b)
  6. Duda (1b)
  7. Wright (3b)
  8. d’Arnaud (c)

Bench

  1. Rivera (c)
  2. Reyes (2b/SS/3b)
  3. Flores (UTL)
  4. Conforto (OF)
  5. Lagares (OF)

Projected Rotation

  1. Syndergaard (RHP)
  2. deGrom (RHP)
  3. Harvey (RHP)
  4. Matz (LHP)
  5. Gsellman (RHP)

Projected Bullpen

  1. Familia (RHP)
  2. Reed (RHP)
  3. Blevins (LHP)
  4. Wheeler (RHP)
  5. Robles (RHP)
  6. Salas (RHP)
  7. Edgin (LHP)

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