Making the Mets: 2023 Roster Prediction

We're only 11 days away from Opening Day 2023 for MLB, and the New York Mets have already seen their fair share of drama. The biggest story that has blasted Mets faithful is that dominant closer Edwin Diaz was hurt while celebrating a victory in the World Baseball Classic. While that is a huge blow to the Mets roster, an invaluable piece to end games can be something organizations' struggle with for years, the rest of the roster is still being built.

With some young talent making legitimate pushes to stay on the roster, the Mets could possibly look to the future at key areas like third base, DH, and even possibly LF. Over the coming week we will know more about who is going to make the team, and who won't. Most positions seem to be straightforward in the roster selection, but others have sprouted decent battles. Let's take a look at this roster projection and discuss the battles taking place in the field.

Catchers (2): Omar Narvaez, Tomas Nido

As much as fans wanted to see the Mets top prospect, Francisco Alvarez, make the roster to start the season, it seems that all signs point to that not happening. Alvarez has significant power, and it's something the Mets lineup sorely needed last season at times, but with Narvaez and Nido being defensive catchers, the Mets will probably opt to take the safer route for now. The Mets front office has already stated that they had no interest in giving him an opportunity at DH just to keep him in the majors, and it makes sense. The Mets haven't had a true power hitting catcher since Mike Piazza wore the blue and orange, but the team is looking for a more complete player. By sending Alvarez down, he has more of an opportunity away from the NY scrutiny to develop defensively and improve to be a complete backstop. If Alvarez tears it up in Syracuse, then they know where to find him. It's a matter of when, not if. As for majors, Narvaez and Nido can help keep them in games, at least serviceably. They can do the trick until Alvarez is ready.

First Base (1): Pete Alonso

There was a corner of the fanbase that wanted Dom Smith to be the everyday starter at first, while Pete was only the DH. Alonso's bat is one of the best in the league at providing power and producing RBI's, and his defense steadily improved last season. Was he Gold Glove worthy? No, but even Pete has said that it's his goal/desire to win one. Until then, Pete will see regular time at first base in the field with every chance to improve defensively to match his outstanding bat. When Pete needs a day off from the field, he'll most likely be seeing time as the DH, which will allow Buck Showalter to put Daniel Vogelbach, a certain prospect, or even Mark Canha at first base for a game. Pete has this position locked down in the Mets uniform, now all the fanbase wants is for him to be locked down with a long term contract with the Mets.

Second Base (2): Jeff McNeil, Luis Guillorme

Guillorme is more a position fluid player, he can see time across the infield and it would make sense. McNeil can see time in LF this season as an extra option to get Guillorme on the field. With the flexibility to move both of these guys around, the infield is in good hands, literally. Jeff McNeil will be the regular starter at 2nd, but the natural hole filler that is Guillorme will be ready to take over when Jeff needs a day off or goes to the outfield.

Shortstop (1): Francisco Lindor

Prospects that make noise in spring training aren't always guaranteed to make the roster, such as Ronny Mauricio. Mauricio had some eye popping home runs leave the yard in his stint down at spring training, but it was a limited sample size even with Lindor's absence due to the WBC. It's the flashes of significant power that make Mets fans salivate over the idea of having Mauricio reaching the majors sooner rather than later, but he's also got plenty of things to work on that would cause headaches for that same section of the fanbase that has no patience with players. With Lindor already signed on to be the Mets shortstop for the foreseeable future, if Mauricio was to stick at shortstop, he's got time in the minors to hone the craft. All signs would point to that not being the case, so Mauricio could see time in the outfield and third in order to expand his opportunities, all of which would be better tested in the minors. Lindor is a staple in the Mets uniform now, and his attitude and play only add to the importance that he brings. He's not going anywhere, so this position seems to be a deadlock for now.

Third Base (2): Brett Baty, Eduardo Escobar

Baty has been tearing it up in spring training both defensively and offensively. He's got all of the athleticism to hold onto a roster spot as the third baseman, and working with Troy Tulowitzki and David Wright has certainly seemed to help give him confidence in his ability. There is a chance that Baty starts the year in Syracuse, in part due to injuries outside of this position group. But Baty has started to look like the prized prospect that everyone thought he could be, even if it is spring training, and that should be enough to at least give him time to start in the majors at third base. Because of what seems like Baty's seeming emergence, Escobar will still see some time on the field at third base when Baty sees time in left field. Some even believe that Baty could end up in left while Mauricio ends up at third in the future, but only time will tell. Escobar can play multiple positions, so even if Baty locks up that position, Escobar has options. Baty playing the field gives Escobar the flexibility to go DH, especially in match ups that don't work in Vogelbach's favor. Keeping both players on the roster also makes sense due to any potential injury or match up bases.

Outfield (4): Mark Canha, Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo, Tim Locastro

The first three listed are basically locked in. All three were contributors last season and should be a big part of the plan in the Mets 2023 season. As for Tim Locastro? He's shown he can hit in spring training, and it's easy to go with Tommy Pham as the 4th outfielder, but Locastro has hit well enough to take the spot right now. Pham is hitting .152 in 33 at bats this spring, while in comparison, Locastro has hit .342 in 38 at bats. Locastro also adds to the stealing threat that Marte possesses, and if anyone could utilize that, it's Buck. There's a scenario where the Mets don't keep Locastro or Pham due to having McNeil, Baty, and Escobar as extra options for time in the outfield, and there's obviously a scenario where Pham beats Locastro for the job. Right now, Locastro should be the choice as the extra outfielder.

DH (2): Daniel Vogelbach, Mark Vientos

The Darin Ruf experience has been...rough. While Mets officials probably believe that it was just an aberration, Ruf hasn't done anything to show that he's on the verge of turning it around. Sending Vientos down after he's shown some improvements would be a tough choice if it means they're choosing Ruf over him. Ruf offers some positional versatility by being able to handle first and a less frequent flyer in the outfield, but if his main contribution is splitting time with Vogelbach, then he would need to show he can hit again. In 27 more at bats, Vientos has a .277 average and 10 RBI's, to Ruf having a .150 average in 20 at bats. If the knock on Vientos is that he needs to work on his plate vision, it would make sense to send him down, but Vientos has seen time at third, outfield, first base, and adds significant pop to the line up when he can connect with the ball. Vogelbach is pretty much locked in as a DH here, so the battle between what appears to be Vientos and Ruf makes for an interesting one. Keep the veteran and hope he breaks out of it? Keep the young prospect and see if he can keep improving beyond spring training? Vientos makes sense.

Starting Pitchers (5): Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson

This one is pretty straightforward until you get to the 5th spot. David Peterson has looked good and nearly unhittable in spring training, and adding a lefty to the rotation makes sense over having Megill take the spot. The legendary duo of Scherzer and Verlander will anchor the front of the rotation, the ghost fork will take the third slot in the rotation, Cookie and Peterson make up a solid back end of the rotation. With Quintana's injury, Peterson and Megill could help form a six man rotation in order to keep some of the arms more fresh, longer. When it comes to the potential six man rotation, Quintana isn't expected to miss the entire year, so things will get a little bit more crazy by his return. If Cookie struggles, does he get traded? If Peterson struggles, does he? None of it matters just yet, but it could make things interesting. Until then, add the lefty Peterson to the rotation if you plan on keeping it as a traditional style.

Relief Pitchers (7): David Robertson, Adam Ottavino, Drew Smith, Brooks Raley, Tommy Hunter, John Curtiss, Stephen Nogosek

With an injury to Diaz, it can be expected that Ottavino or Robertson will take on the role of closer in some capacity during the season barring any free agent signing. Injuries also occurred to Brooks Raley and Bryce Montes de Oca, the latter will start the year on the IL at least, but Raley has a chance to be ready to go by the time he's needed for regular season games. While Montes de Oca can be wild, he looked good in his short time in spring training and there's no reason to believe he wouldn't have been able to take a roster spot away from someone like Nogosek, Curtiss, or Hunter. In this case, Zachary Greene is a rule 5 pick, so he'll have to be offered back to the Yankees, but not keeping Greene opens a spot for Tommy Hunter. Hunter is a Showalter favorite, so it makes sense for him to stick around over someone like Joey Luchessi, who could prove to be more valuable if he stays a starter in Syracuse if he doesn't go elsewhere. Nogosek, like Hunter, can't exactly be sent down so easily. Hunter would have to accept the demotion, while Nogosek is out of options and would need to be exposed to waivers, something the Mets probably won't want to do.

If someone like Brett Baty or Mark Vientos gets sent down the minor leagues, it makes every bit of sense to carry another bullpen option. For now, even with injuries, the Mets go with 7 in this prediction in order to give the young sluggers a chance to show they can stay in the majors. Out of the two, Vientos makes the most sense to send back down due to his propensity to strikeout and being blocked from playing third base by multiple players. Escobar, Baty, and Guillorme, can all play third base so the chances for Vientos to see meaningful time there would be shortened quite a bit. The 2023 Mets may already be facing the injury bug as a lightning bolt of fear struck fans when Nimmo got up limping in a spring training game, Diaz is out for the year, Raley and Montes de Oca both were hurt, but with this roster projection they have a lot of flexibility. With flexibility comes a better way to fight the risk of fatigue and injury, and that's something the Mets should look forward to in building the roster for 2023.

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