Orioles Preview - Page 48 - The Mets

Orioles Preview
- Page 48
The Mets

Associated Press


Jacob deGrom would like a big contract. If nothing else, he’s getting more help.


During a busy offseason under first-time general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, the suddenly aggressive Mets overhauled a significant portion of their roster in the wake of a second consecutive losing season.


The Mets added five recent All-Stars in second baseman Robinson Cano, closer Edwin Diaz, catcher Wilson Ramos, infielder Jed Lowrie and reliever Jeurys Familia. The bench was upgraded, and a faulty bullpen received a substantial boost.


With the new-look group in place, it would appear deGrom has a good chance at a better won-loss record than the baffling 10-9 mark the NL Cy Young Award winner compiled last season despite a 1.70 ERA that was easily the lowest in the majors.


“Looking back, it was kind of a crazy year,” deGrom acknowledged.


What remains to be seen is whether all of the offseason changes are enough to lift the Mets above fourth place in a highly competitive NL East.


“It looks like a really tough division,” outfielder Brandon Nimmo said. “But we’ve got a really good team, so we really like our chances.”


Once again, the Mets will count on a talented rotation.


Noah Syndergaard (13-4, 3.03 ERA in 25 starts) is aiming for a fully healthy season, and Zack Wheeler (12-7, 3.31) was even more dominant than deGrom during a breakout second half (9-1, 1.68ERAin his last 11 starts).


Second-year manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland are anticipating more from lefty Steven Matz and 2017 All-Star Jason Vargas.


“There are some teams out there with very good rotations, but I think most teams would love to have our rotation,” Eiland said.


Cano, 36, is expected to anchor the offense after the former Yankee and his hefty contract were obtained in a blockbuster trade with the Mariners that also netted Diaz, who led the majors with 57 saves last year.


Ramos joins Nimmo and fellow outfielder Michael Conforto (28 homers) in a lineup that should possess more punch.


DeGrom, 30, is set to make $17 million this season. He is under team control through 2020, so the sides could always reopen negotiations next offseason. But deGrom didn’t rule out the possibility of limiting his 2019workload to protect his future.


The opener features a sensational duel between deGrom and Max Scherzer.


Rookie to watch: Power-hitting prospect Pete Alonso looks ready for the big leagues and could make a huge difference by providing immediate pop from the right side. Alonso led all minor leaguers with 36 homers and 119 RBIs last season. His defense is a question mark.


Reinforcements ready: Injuries always seem to hamstring the Mets. Todd Frazier (strained oblique) and Lowrie (sprained left knee) are expected to miss the start of the season, and reliever Drew Smith will be sidelined all year after Tommy John surgery.


Up the middle: Talented young shortstop Amed Rosario made strides in the second half of his first full season. He’s a rare source of speed for the Mets but needs to improve his .295 on-base percentage. The Mets hope Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton can adequately plug a hole in center field.


Photo: Ace Jacob deGrom has a Cy Young Award — and would like a large contract to match.