This is the second in a seven-part Mets Spring Training preview. Today's installment: The new guys.
NEW YORK -- The Mets weren't missing much during their World Series run last year, finishing a few wins shy of their ultimate goal. And much of the optimism for an encore revolves around the players they re-signed -- Yoenis Cespedes, anyone? -- and retained.
But the Mets also spent much of the early offseason tacking improvements onto their roster. From their middle infield to the bullpen, this club sees itself as stronger than it was at this time last year, thanks in large part to the following additions:
2B Neil Walker: On paper, the switch-hitting Walker is an upgrade over Daniel Murphy both offensively and defensively. Though Walker's glove rates slightly below average overall, he is a consistent power threat who has clubbed 87 of his 93 career homers from the left side of the plate. The Mets acquired him for the reasonable price of starting pitcher Jon Niese, whom they subsequently replaced by re-signing veteran Bartolo Colon.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera: The 30-year-old shortstop completes the Mets' new-look middle infield. A below-average defender himself, Cabrera is nonetheless an upgrade on paper over Wilmer Flores. And he is a consistent offensive performer, having averaged 17 home runs per season over the past half-decade. The Mets signed Cabrera to a two-year, $18.5 million deal with a team option for 2018.
LHP Antonio Bastardo: General manager Sandy Alderson doesn't typically invest big bucks in his bullpens, but he made an exception for Bastardo. The veteran left-hander earned a two-year, $12 million deal on the strength of his 3.58 career ERA, as well as his strong history against both left- and right-handed hitters. Bastardo will team with Addison Reed as a primary eighth-inning option for the Mets.
OF Alejandro De Aza: Given a mulligan, the Mets might not have inked De Aza to the one-year, $5.75 million deal they agreed on in late December, considering the club's subsequent reacquisition of Cespedes. That signing made De Aza expendable to the point that the Mets may shop him in Spring Training. But if no deal unfolds, De Aza will need to fight with Juan Lagares for playing time behind Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto.
RHP Jim Henderson: Of all the Mets' non-roster invitees to Spring Training, Henderson probably has the best chance to make the team. A successful big league closer as recently as three years ago in Milwaukee, he spent all of last season in the Minors before inking a Minor League deal with the Mets early this offseason. Henderson will compete with a slew of others for a chance to pitch some sixth and seventh innings.