PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- While the Mets enjoy their lone off-day of the spring -- watch out, St. Lucie County golf courses -- it's a good time to step back and look at the team's projected Opening Night roster.
As manager Terry Collins put it Tuesday: "It's starting to take shape. We're getting some answers. In our situation, all 25 spots are important."
It's unlikely that Asdrubal Cabrera's left knee will heal in time to play shortstop on Opening Night, which leaves Flores to start there in his absence. Although Juan Lagares will see regular time against lefties, the Mets aren't going to face one on Opening Night. So barring another injury or an ultra-speedy recovery from Cabrera, the eight names above should be on the lineup card in Kansas City -- likely in that order.
Much of the intrigue on the entire roster lies here. Cabrera's knee injury and the Mets' subsequent placing of Ruben Tejada on waivers (he went unclaimed and was released by the club Wednesday) free up two spots, with Reynolds and Campbell the overwhelming favorites to grab them. There's always a chance someone like Ty Kelly or T.J. Rivera could sneak on instead, but neither is having an overly impressive spring.
De Aza entered Spring Training without much of a role because the Mets signed him before realizing Cespedes was in their price range. That sparked trade rumors, and there's still a decent chance New York will deal him before the month ends. But with space for both Campbell and De Aza on the roster at this point, less incentive exists for the Mets to deal the latter. Roger Bernadina is the only alternative left in camp.
The Mets have talked internally about starting Plawecki out in Triple-A Las Vegas to give him more regular at-bats, reportedly going as far as telling rival teams they're interested in trading for a veteran backup. But Plawecki remains the favorite to break camp with the club, perhaps even drawing a start or two at first base this summer.
The will likely pitch in that order, if the Mets' upcoming Spring Training rotation is any indication. Although deGrom deserves the Opening Day nod on the strength of his numbers last season, his wife is due with the couple's first child at the start of April. New York seems inclined to avoid playing with fire there, and the club certainly doesn't need to risk it with Harvey in midseason form. An official announcement could come this week.
The rest of the rotation is obvious, at least until Zack Wheeler returns from Tommy John surgery around July 1.
The first five are locks, with four of them on guaranteed Major League contracts. That leaves two spots at the back end of the bullpen. At the start of Spring Training, Collins colored both Gilmartin and Goeddel as the favorites given their successes in the big leagues last season. But Goeddel only recently began throwing off a mound due to a right lat muscle injury, which puts his status in doubt. If Goeddel is not ready, former Brewers closer Jim Henderson is having the best spring on paper, impressing rival scouts with mid-90s velocity. He'll almost certainly be a part of the bullpen sooner or later.