The Post’s Mets beat writer Mike Puma breaks down all the angles as the Amazin’s get set to open spring training.
Best position battle
The Mets have six starting pitchers for five rotation spots, so if everybody is healthy, who will get squeezed to the bullpen? Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are locks for the rotation, and Marcus Stroman would also appear likely to have a spot. That would leave Steven Matz, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha battling for two spots. Matz is the only left-hander among the starting pitchers.
Most intriguing minor leaguer
Andres Gimenez slumped offensively at Double-A Binghamton last season but rebounded to win the batting title in the Arizona Fall League. A smooth-fielding infielder, Gimenez’s defense is considered first-rate.
Story to watch develop
Syndergaard wasn’t thrilled with the idea of throwing to Wilson Ramos as last season progressed. Now the Mets will attempt to get both in sync. Ramos brings a solid bat to the Mets’ lineup, but his game-calling and defense are questionable.
Manager’s toughest challenges
Finding at-bats for J.D. Davis could be a challenge for Luis Rojas if everybody is healthy. Davis emerged last season as one of the Mets’ most consistent offensive performers, but if Yoenis Cespedes returns, where does Davis play? Rojas must also figure out early whom he can depend upon in the late innings. Is it Edwin Diaz? Can Jeurys Familia be trusted again?
Most intriguing newcomer
Dellin Betances, if healthy, could give the Mets an All-Star caliber arm who pitches in the eighth or ninth inning. Betances will have plenty to prove after missing almost all of last season with shoulder and Achilles tendon injuries.
Most notable absence
Zack Wheeler received a five-year contract worth $118 million from the Phillies, removing a high-octane arm from the Mets’ rotation. With Wheeler still in the NL East for a team expected to contend for the playoffs, his departure could be a double whammy for the Mets.
Don’t be surprised if it becomes an issue
Robinson Cano rebounded in the latter part of last season, but if he slumps early again, there will be outcry to put the veteran second baseman on the bench. Cano has strong backers in Rojas and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, but those loyalties could be tested.
Cespedes hasn’t played in 1 ½ seasons after undergoing surgery on both heels then sustaining multiple ankle fractures on his ranch last May attempting to elude a wild boar. The veteran outfielder had his contract drastically reduced (with incentives added based on avoiding the injured list) and is entering his walk year. He will be extremely motivated to stay on the field and produce.