Yet another look at the Mets’ potential 26-man roster

Some people still expect the Mets to make a trade to acquire a guy for the Opening Day roster. While it certainly could happen, if you put a gun to my head and asked me my thoughts – my answer would be “no.” So, if this is it for the offseason, what would the roster look like when the Mets leave Spring Training and head north? In a bit of a surprise, there’s actually very little debate how makes the 26-man roster, assuming everyone is healthy and ready to go.

SP – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, Rick Porcello
RP – Seth Lugo, Edwin Diaz, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Brad Brach, Robert Gsellman, Michael Wacha
C – Wilson Ramos, Tomas Nido
INF – Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Jed Lowrie
OF – Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Jake Marisnick

The big question is what happens if/when Cespedes isn’t ready to go. But it almost seems like there’s an instant answer there, too. With Smith’s ability to play OF in a pinch, the Mets add Luis Guilorme to go with a real backup SS.

Theoretically, there’s a competition for the fourth/fifth starter slots, with Wacha in the running along with Matz and Porcello. But it’s hard to imagine the Mets not carrying a lefty in the rotation and the guaranteed salary for Porcello means it’s hard to think of him opening in the pen. Perhaps crazier things have happened but if someone offered you a bet saying they expect Wacha to win a spot in the rotation during Graprefruit League play, even if the others are healthy, you should probably take it.

The actual biggest question if the hierarchy in the pen.

Diaz was acquired last offseason to be the shut-down closer. But he failed miserably in that regard. Does he get the first crack in 2020 or does that go to Lugo, who had such a good season in 2019, eventually taking over for Diaz. It might be a nice reward for him, given that he still wants to be a starter and they signed two guys to ensure that didn’t happen. Does the “loser” for the closer’s job become the eighth inning man? Or does Betances automatically assume that role?

And what do you do with Familia? Do you give him the lowest of low-leverage appearances and hope to ease him back into a more prominent role? Or is the sixth inning guy enough of a low-pressure spot for him? And how do you handle Wacha, who’s been primarily a starter in his career? Do you just use him for multi-inning appearances whenever the need arises or do you give him dedicated days to pitch so he can plan accordingly?

And how about that lineup?

Nimmo
Alonso
McNeil
Cespedes
Conforto
Ramos
Cano
Rosario

It’s easy to break up the lefties. Perhaps the biggest worry with this configuration is the lack of speed with Ramos and Cano going back-to-back. You could make an argument for flipping Ramos and Rosario but it seems like Ramos is the better bet in the RBI spot. Rosario will just have to be alert if those guys are on base ahead of him. They’ll turn doubles into singles for him.

That lineup should score runs. Those starters should be able to give innings. Will the health hold up? Will some of the bullpen guys bounce back near to 2018 levels? How bad will the defense be? If any of those last three questions are answered in a good way, the 2020 season should be a fun one.

18 comments for “Yet another look at the Mets’ potential 26-man roster

  1. John Fox
    December 28, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    I think there will be some sort of splashy deal for a veteran this offseason, that seems to be BVW’s MO.

    • Rich Hausig
      December 28, 2019 at 5:35 pm

      Not sure if he goes splashy, there is no room in the inn, unless the Marte talk is about trading for him and then trading someone else after you get him or if its a 3 team deal with the Mets getting him or another player while using Nimmo or Smith. But I think they wait and use Smith or whoever in a deal during the year,

      They do need a b/u catcher. Id like to see them find a strong defensive guy, offense not important if his defense is strong enough.

      • December 28, 2019 at 6:32 pm

        How much more of a defensive guy do you think you’re going to get than Nido? Among NL Catchers with at least 100 innings caught, a sample of 38 players, Nido had the fifth-best tOPS+. And the guys ahead of him didn’t catch a whole lot and had low BABIPs. Nido’s defensive BABIP was .295

  2. Name
    December 28, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Wild card on roster setup is the effect of the (overreaching) 3 batter rule and whether you need 8 guys out there in the pen.

    No longer can a manager purposely burn 2-3 relievers an inning which means if a SP can go 7 IP, you really only should expect to use 2 guys, 3 max. It will take some time for the GMs/managers to figure out, but by the summer we could see teams realising they have guys wasting away not getting enough work and would rather want another warm body on the bench instead.

    • December 28, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      It certainly was my hope that teams – at least the Mets – would use the extra player for a hitter rather than a pitcher. But with the pitching additions this offseason, it’s hard to see it working out that way.

      I think a smart team would go to six relievers and have two extra bench bats.

      • MattyMets
        December 29, 2019 at 7:00 pm

        Two things jump out at me. 1- I’d like a better catcher than Nido. 2-only way bench is strong is if Cespedes and Lowrie are healthy and we don’t trade Smith it Davis. If any of those four aren’t on the OD roster we’ll need another bench bat.

        I agree that the 26th spot should be used on the bench. I think that extra spot gives us the luxury to keep Smith and Guillorme on the bench.

        Also agree that we need to stock Syracuse like we did last year with cheap veterans who can step in when injuries hit.

  3. TJ
    December 28, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    This is an excellent point and it shouldn’t be underestimated. The combination of expanding the roster to 26 and requiring a reliever to face 3 batters minimum has huge implications on roster spots, game management, and bullpen usage. I think a pen of 7 makes most sense at the beginning, and go from there. Brodie really has a full squad from that perspective and given the MLB contracts. He is somewhat lacking in options guys he can move up and down based on need.

  4. Metsense
    December 28, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Assuming is healthy and ready to go then this would be the roster you list. Your lineup is formidable and the bench has depth. The hierarchy in the bullpen should determined and earned by results. It seems that Lugo wasn’t used on back to back days most of the season (6X with 3X in September). Lugo, Wacha and Gellman should pitch multiple innings and Lugo should typically close games entering in the 8th inning. Betances, Wilson , Brach, Diaz and Familia all have closer experience and results should determine who closes when Lugo is unavailable.

  5. Eraff
    December 28, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Brian, i keep counting to 27 for the Roster you posted….maybe I misread it? 14 Pitchers blows my mind!

    I think they need to see this team play…… I’d rather they keep Dry Powder for some of the needs that will be very clear as the season progresses. I’d argue that they’re a very good team and I’d like to know that they need, and what their player valuations might be, especially for Lowrie and Cespedes.

    Between Lowrie and Ces and Cano…that could be an amazingly surprising strength, or a sudden need.

    Dom’s in a tough spot…He’s gonna wait to play—for someone

    • December 28, 2019 at 11:28 pm

      SP 5
      RP – 8
      C – 2
      INF – 6
      OF – 5
      Total – 26

      There are 13 pitchers listed. Not sure where you’re getting 14

  6. December 29, 2019 at 8:40 am

    From one to five, the lineup is pretty good. I do worry about Ramos’ ability to play more than 125 games again as he did last year. The offense takes a hit when he doesn’t play.

    I also wonder if they are actually going to bat Cano 7th, or if we will see him shoved into the three hole again.

    Here’s hoping JD Davis is spending his offseason shagging flies. Cespedes’ potential return might limit JD’s exposure in left, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They do need to get his bat into the lineup however.

    I also expect a flurry of minor league signings for the Syracuse rotation as there are some semi-reputable names (Ivan Nova, Jeremy Hellickson, Drew Smyly) still out there.

  7. Eraff
    December 29, 2019 at 9:42 am

    It would be interesting to know the Analytic assumptions driven by the 3 Batter Rule. My own thoughts are that Full Pitch Selection Guys will be much more useful…. Specialty Guys and Loogys will be very tough to Roster, and they will be exposed upon use.

    The Mets are well placed, to my own assumptions that the number of 2-4 inning relief stints will rise. They have 8 guys who profile to Start/Pitch multi innings—that’s big.

    ( also…I’ve been practicing My Numbers and Counting as well 🙂 )

  8. Remember1969
    December 29, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    I am in general agreement with everything Brian has written and the various comments cover my thoughts after I learned about (a) the 26 man roster and (b) the three batter rule.

    But a few of random things just because:
    (1) My suspicion is that Lowrie will not be on the roster on opening day. I am not sure if it will be a spring training injury, a trade, or just that he cannot shake the rust from not playing at all in 2019 and cannot play his way onto it – will the Mets cut their losses in that case? I hope so.

    (2) My second most likely candidate to not be seen in 2020 is Cespedes. Will he be ready to play by April? I think he is a great trade candidate (AL team – Rangers?)

    (3) In their places, I see Guillorme as the infield replacement for Lowrie, Smith sliding to the OF list, and perhaps adding a third catcher.

    (4) I would like to see a better hitting backup catcher, not sure who that is, perhaps Castro. I have no issue with keeping Nido as the 26th man. Three catchers deepens the bench if Ramos is not starting.

    (5) When I first saw the addition of the 26th slot, my first thought was “Billy Hamilton”. A speed first guy that can play a little outfield without getting too many at bats seemed to fit my thought. With the make-up of the Mets roster, I think I would prefer the extra catcher.

    (6) Line-up construction: Hit Rosario 9th, pitcher 8th. A couple thoughts on this – Rosario will get better pitches to hit, and Alonso and McNeil will get more RBI opportunity.

    (7) My preference would be dropping Alonso to the clean-up slot, but I it does get a little messy figuring out else has to happen for that to work.

    Without regard for the left/right/left thing going (perhaps the new 3 batter rule makes this less important?), I would do:

    Nimmo
    McNeil
    Conforto
    Alonso
    Cano
    Cespedes
    Ramos
    Pitcher
    Rosario

    I could see some big first innings against right handed starters 😉

    Another way might be Nimmo – Rosario – McNeil – Alonso – Conforto – Cespedes – Cano – Ramos – Pitcher; Rosario would need to show he is ready for a full time job at the top of the order.

  9. MattyMets
    December 30, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Another thing that changes with the 3-batter rule is the need to alternate lefty-righty in the lineup. Still good to have a balance and the Mets certainly have that with a projected lineup of 4 righties and 4 lefties, however it now makes sense to top the lineup with Nimmo-McNeil.

    Nimmo
    McNeil
    Alonso
    Conforto
    Cespedes/Davis
    Ramos
    Cano
    Rosario
    P

    • December 30, 2019 at 10:52 am

      I don’t get your logic.

      The three batter rule also allows for a pitcher to be removed once he completes an inning. So, if there is one out and you have back-to-back lefties in your lineup, the other team can bring in their LOOGY to face your two lefties and have an appearance with fewer than three batters.

      • MattyMets
        December 30, 2019 at 12:23 pm

        And if there’s No outs and Alonso is the third hitter, would you bring in a loogy?

        In the one out scenario, there are still variables – is the loogy replacing the starter, a reliever who pitched the previous inning, or one who put two men on base? Thank god we won’t have Callaway banging his head against the dugout wall trying to figure this out.

        • December 30, 2019 at 1:11 pm

          Me? I can’t answer that question because I don’t carry a LOOGY. For my bullpen, I take my six best pitchers, regardless of which hand they throw with. And my usage patterns depend on leverage and rest way before handedness.

  10. TexasGusCC
    December 30, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    My two cents:

    1 cent: I’d keep my best 26 players and not trade anyone away unless that trade constitutes an upgrade to a position, and I’m not a fan of ripping up the minor leagues. My previous trade candidates of Smith, Lowrie, and Matz stands, but I do get the logic of keeping Matz in order to not have Porcello as your #4.

    2 cents: Rosario, Nimmo, McNeil, in that order to open the game. Rosario made great strides in the second half and I want my best athlete getting a chance to continue that. Nimmo takes a bunch of pitches and McNeil is the best pure hitter on the team that keeps the line moving. Alonso is not a high average guy and strikes out alot, so if Cespedes and Conforto are in top form, Alonso is #6. I hope the Mets can stop kissing butts and put players where their production belongs. If Cespedes is not quite right, bat him 6th, or wherever he belongs. If Cano can continue his stronger last two months, then he can be closer to the middle. If not, he can help Beltran manage, or bat 8th. If this team actually wants to win, they need to act like winning teams do: cutthroat, no prisoners.

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