With the playoffs ongoing, we are still a few weeks away from the offseason beginning in earnest. The Mets are likely to be one of the most active teams in free agency, but it is never too early to take a look at what the 2022 roster might look like.
This position seems fairly locked up before the offseason even begins. Despite his lackluster 2021, McCann is under contract for three more seasons and should see the majority of playing time until top prospect Francisco Alvarez is ready to make the jump to the big leagues. Nido has proven himself to be a serviceable backup, with great defense and timely hitting. Ideally, the Mets could perhaps bring in a quality lefty-hitting veteran to split time with McCann, such as Tucker Barnhart (who has a club option for next year). However, with several more obvious holes in the roster, this should be nowhere near the top of the priority list.
The Mets are in a strange position with their infield, and really with their offense at large. They have a number of guys who have previously shown themselves to be quality major-league players, but had confounding 2021 seasons. This includes guys like J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith. Add in the return of Robinson Cano and guys like Jose Peraza and Jose Martinez, and the Mets will be forced into making some tough decisions about which are worthy of a 2022 roster spot. Not to mention that if they want to be competitive, they need to add more elite major league talent, hint: Javier Baez.
The Mets can at least lock in Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor in the starting lineup. Guillorme has proven his worth as a bench piece, and like it or not Robinson Cano will likely start the year on the roster. In my opinion, the front office needs to acquire a new second baseman and new third baseman in order to compete next year. After the offense failed in 2021, they cannot afford to rely on the same players in 2022. There is a slew of quality infield options available, including Baez, Kris Bryant, Chris Taylor, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, and Eduardo Escobar just to name a few.
The situation in the outfield looks much like that on the infield: lots of options, lots of questions. Brandon Nimmo is the only lock to start, with part-time roles for Jeff McNeil and Dom Smith assuming neither is traded. Just as with the infield, the Mets need at least one big acquisition, and could maybe use two.
The free-agent class is not nearly as stacked as the infield, highlighted by Mark Canha, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Starling Marte, and again, Chris Taylor. The Mets should most certainly jump at the opportunity to acquire either Taylor or Marte, as J.D. Davis and Dom Smith have provided enough bad outfield defense for the next decade.
The combination of declining performance and departing free agents has placed the Mets offense in a dire position this offseason. The team needs at least two major upgrades and could use as many as four. As a fan, it still feels unclear just how much owner Steve Cohen is willing to break the bank in this pursuit, and that will determine much of the the team’s immediate success.
Another key feature of this offense is that there are a number of contracted players without a clear position. J.D. Davis is below average everywhere, Smith has no position with Alonso at first, and Jeff McNeil is about average all over, but his 2021 season throws his offense into question. Not to mention the fact that no one has any idea what Robinson Cano is capable of at this point in his career.
However, this problem could be significantly helped by a new collective bargaining agreement bringing the designated hitter to the National League. This would allow the team to slot in any one of the above names, assuming at least one of them can provide solid offense in 2022. This is yet another reason why the front office should target defensively-minded outfielders. Essentially any of these names could compete for a spot as DH, but the Mets currently have just one defensively adequate outfielder in Brandon Nimmo.
It will most certainly be way off the mark, but this is my most realistic approximation at the Mets 2022 lineup. The Mets should be able to retain Javy Baez, and Chris Taylor would be a big bat with versatile defense. While I would love to see the Mets blow through the luxury tax barrier, and add on the likes of a Kris Bryant or Corey Seager, Baez and Taylor are already adding significant payroll without even considering the necessary pitching upgrades.
Brandon Nimmo RF
Chris Taylor CF
Francisco Lindor SS
Pete Alonso 1B
Robinson Cano DH
Javier Baez 2B
Corey Dickerson LF
James McCann C
Jeff McNeil LF
Come join the discussion made by the fans at the Overtime Heroics forums! A place for all sports fans!
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images