You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Mets.
Realistically, what does the rotation look like next year? — @BrightApollo
Of all the areas the Mets will need to improve, the rotation likely tops the list. Jacob deGrom is under contract for the next two seasons — he can opt out after 2022 — and David Peterson appears to be a safe bet for the rotation, but beyond that holes exist.
Seth Lugo remains a strong rotation option, but there will always be concern about the right-hander’s partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Noah Syndergaard is expected to miss at least the first two months of next season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. His return at normal strength would be a huge addition, but can the Mets count on that? Trevor Bauer might be the top starting pitcher headed to free agency. If the Mets were to sign him, a 1-2-3 consisting of deGrom, Bauer and Syndergaard could be formidable in the second half of next season, with Lugo and Peterson filling in behind them. But as this season has proven, the Mets will need depth options.
Who do you think their No. 1 free-agent target for the offseason will be? — @HakunaMattuta
Wilson Ramos’ struggles this season have underscored the need for an upgrade at catcher. Is Robinson Chirinos, who arrived last week in a trade, the answer for 2021? It’s hard to say for sure. A bold move would be to pursue J.T. Realmuto, who might be the top available player in the free-agent market. There is risk, of course, in throwing a boatload of money at a 30-year-old catcher, but the Mets need improvement at the position as they await 18-year-old Francisco Alvarez. The Mets might have a solid backup in Tomas Nido, but Realmuto would upgrade all aspects of the position.
Will Dominic Smith ever be an adequate major league left fielder? Where is his place on this team? — Jim Chemerys
Smith doesn’t embarrass himself in left field, but he’s still below average at the position. There is no reason the Mets have to lock him into one spot if the DH remains in the National League. If the DH somehow doesn’t stick, Smith becomes the primary left fielder who can make an occasional cameo at first base.
Is Jacob deGrom the Cy Young award favorite? — @HakeemWats
DeGrom is right there in the mix with three weeks remaining, but I wouldn’t necessarily call him the favorite. Yu Darvish holds an ERA advantage on deGrom (1.44 to 1.69) and several pitchers lead the Mets ace in WAR. But we saw deGrom finish strong last year as his primary competition for the award, Hyun-Jin Ryu, faded down the stretch. Arizona’s Zac Gallan and Atlanta’s Max Fried are two others to watch. We’re at the point one bad outing can ruin somebody’s chances.
If Brandon Nimmo should be moved to left field, shouldn’t the Mets be considering Amed Rosario’s transition to center field and giving shortstop to Andres Gimenez? — Ray Boive
The Mets have plenty of pieces — Nimmo, Smith, J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil included — that can move around the diamond. Before considering Rosario for center field they will have to decide whether Andres Gimenez should be the everyday shortstop next season (he sure appears capable). If Smith is going to play left field with Cano as the DH next season, maybe Nimmo gets squeezed out. There will be tough decisions after the season.