After the New York Mets decided to name Carlos Beltrán the team's next manager, it answered the biggest question for the team entering the off season.
Even though the Mets have named their new leader, they are still left with numerous burning questions that will determine how the team will be constructed heading into Opening Day 2020.
The biggest questions for the Mets center around how they will deal with the six free agents which were on the team last season. These free agents are: Zach Wheeler, Luis Avilan, Rene Rivera, Todd Frazier, Brad Brach, and Rajai Davis.
The Mets declined the option of Juan Lagares earlier this week, and the former Gold Glover will see his time with the Metropolitans come to a close.
The two players that will provide the most intrigue all winter will be Todd Frazier and Zach Wheeler. While Frazier did have a down year, he was the Mets every day third baseman during the 2019 season. Wheeler has had an up-and-down tenure in Flushing, but has proven that he has the capability to dominate every five days.
Wheeler finished 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 2019.
The Mets look poised to move on from Frazier in the off season, and this means the team must find a third baseman for 2020 and beyond. Marquee free agent third baseman will be: Josh Donaldson, Anthony, Rendon, Mike Moustakas, and a variety of others.
It would be best for the 'Amazin's,' to move on from the aging veteran and get younger at the 'hot corner.'
An option for the Mets at that position could be one that was on the roster in 2019, but was unable to make much of an impact due to injury. Jed Lowrie played seven games for the team in 2019, and can find himself starting the season at third base.
Wheeler will probably walk out the door this winter because Mets management is apprehensive to hand out expensive long-term contracts to players. The team has until 5 p.m. Monday to decide on whether or not to offer Wheeler a qualifying offer. Whether Wheeler rejects the offer, or the team does not extend the offer to him, Wheeler will be able to test the free agent waters this winter.
Since Wheeler will conceivably not be on the Mets to begin 2020, the team will have to replace one of their top-flight starting pitchers. The team will not be in the market for starting pitchers like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, so they will be forced to turn their focus to mid-level starters like Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel, and others.
Other questions that face the Mets this winter will be: How will their outfield look entering 2020, will Yoenis Cespedes ever suit up for the team again, and what can be expected of Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano after having the worst years of their careers during their first season with the club?
The outfield in 2020 is expected to be: Jeff McNeil in RF, Michael Conforto in CF, and Brandon Nimmo in LF. Can Nimmo be counted on to be an every day player following an injury-riddled 2019 campaign? Also, if McNeil slides in for the departed Frazier at third base, how will this cause General Mangaer Brodie Van Wagenen to reconfigure the outfield for next season?
Possible options could be J.D. Davis, or going after free agents like Marcell Ozuna, or Yasiel Puig. Both of these former All-Stars would significantly upgrade the Mets current outfield situation.
Yoenis Cespedes signed a 4-year $110 contract with the team in 2017, and it has been a complete disaster ever since the former All-Star signed on the dotted line. Cespedes has been injured for a majority of the past two season's and only was able to play in 119 games combined in 2018 and 2019.
Cespedes fractured his ankle in May and was shut down in 2018 after he underwent heel surgery due to calcification. Will Cespedes provide the Mets with any contribution in 2020, the last year of his disastrous contract with the team?
After Diaz and Cano had terrible 2019 campaigns, they will need to bounce back during their second season in Orange and Blue. Diaz had a 5.59 ERA last season, and became so much of a liability for the team late in games that former Mets Manager Mickey Callaway was forced to turn to a closer by committee approach late in 2019.
Diaz is only 25 years of age, and was the best closer in the league in 2018. Mets fans should expect a bounce back year for the closer in 2020.
Cano looked washed up at times last season and the World Series champion will be 38 by the time next season rolls around. The second baseman still has 4 years and $96 million left on his contract, but the team must look for a more reliable option heading into the off season.
Cano hit for the worst average in his career, .256, and had the lowest OBP of his illustrious career in 2019. The best option for the Mets would be to reduce Cano's role significantly going forward, or cut bait with him entirely. This would allow McNeil to find a permanent home at his natural position of second base.
This would leave the Mets with a gaping hole at third base, and in one of the corner outfield spots.
Van Wagenen has a chance to prove his detractors wrong during the 2019 off season, and show that the former agent has what it takes to be a top-flight executive in the league.
Van Wagenen will first have to decide how to deal with the free agents which were on the team last season, and then turn his attention towards bringing in players that can help push the team over the top in 2020 and beyond.