Let’s take a look at a bulk of the Mets’ 40-man roster and make some projections on what things might look at in 2015, the year cited by many as when the team will be ready for primetime.
Of course, there’s no accounting for injuries, trades or players leaving as free agents.
Johan Santana: Will be gone after this season as there’s no way the Mets can afford keeping him – even if he’s healthy this year – and think they can be a contender. The Mets will attempt to trade him, but even if they absorb much of his contract there will be few takers.
Jon Niese: He’ll still be under contract and hopefully will have developed into a topflight pitcher. He’s lefthanded, throws hard and under cost control. All reasons teams covet him and why the Mets should keep him.
Matt Harvey: If he lives up to expectations, he’ll be a star. Should he have a big year in 2013, the Mets might consider wrapping him up as they did Niese. That’s the best way to have cost certainty.
Dillon Gee: Unless he steps up his game, he’ll be gone. There’s potential there, but unless he harnesses it, Zack Wheeler could push him out of the rotation.
Jenrry Mejia: Your guess is as good as mine. Starter or reliever? It can’t be both. Mejia has had limited opportunities because of how the Mets waffled with him. His stock has fallen and he could be gone in three years.
Zack Wheeler: He’s highly rated and barring setbacks should be in the rotation by then. How good he’ll be is anybody’s guess.
Bobby Parnell: Closer or bust. Parnell showed something at the end of last season. If he doesn’t win the closer job by 2014, he’ll likely be gone.
The bullpen: Never mind 2015, how about 2013? There’s such a turnover in bullpens in today’s game that it is hard to project. Do the Mets have a bullpen prospect that can be pegged as a potential closer? Nobody outside of Parnell will be ready by then, and even he is iffy.
John Buck: Assuming he’s healthy, the job belongs to Travis d’Arnaud. Buck is a stopgap already making too much money by Mets’ standards. It is conceivable Buck could be supplanted by d’Arnaud by the second half.
Ike Davis: The Mets already avoided arbitration with him and if Davis hits another 30 homers, they should consider going long term with him. You build teams around 30-homer sluggers.
Daniel Murphy: Somehow, I can’t see Murphy still here. I see him being dealt to the American League where he can play as a DH. By 2015, the Mets will have added a second baseman, perhaps Wilmer Flores.
Ruben Tejada: The Mets have several shortstop prospects, but will they be ready by 2015? They like Gavin Cecchini, but wonder if he’ll hit enough. Tejada is establishing himself offensively and if he keeps it up, he’ll stay around.
David Wright: His contract ensures he’ll be around, but like Santana will it be one they regret? Wright hasn’t taken advantage of the shortened fences at Citi Field and the Mets wonder if he’ll hit with consistent 30-homer power.
Lucas Duda: He’s a work in progress with time to develop. Perhaps it will happen for him as a left fielder. Duda is better as a first baseman, but what will they do with Davis? Duda is a guy I can see them dealing in the future.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: He made a good first impression, but struggled with the breaking ball and ended the season injured in the minor leagues. If he becomes the fulltime center fielder, he could still be here. Working in his favor is he comes cheaply. But, if the Mets start spending in a few years they will go for more power in the outfield.
Mike Baxter: He’s a role player now, and a projected starter because the Mets aren’t spending any money. No way he’ll keep that job in three years.
Of the 16 names (including the position of bullpen) there are only seven I can say with confidence will be around in 2015. So, assuming if the projections of 2015 are true, that makes 19 spots to be filled.
That’s a lot of work to do.