NEW YORK -- The Mets are expected to be without their most valuable offensive player from 2016, as Yoenis Cespedes opted out of his contract. It does not mean Cespedes is gone forever, but it is a storyline that should dominate Major League Baseball's free-agent period.
Here's a look at what awaits the Mets this offseason:
Biggest potential free-agent loss: Cespedes, and it's not close. Unlike last year when the Mets faced little competition for him, Cespedes may find a more fruitful market for his services this offseason. If another team offers Cespedes a long-term deal of five or six years, the Mets aren't likely to come close to matching it. That would leave a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup, with questions surrounding David Wright, Jay Bruce, Duda and others.
Potential free-agent targets: Assuming Cespedes leaves, the Mets would love to find a left-handed-hitting center fielder to platoon with Juan Lagares. Already, rumors are swirling around switch-hitter Dexter Fowler, even if his age, platoon splits and defensive inconsistencies make him far from a perfect fit.
The Mets also have a need at second base, where a reunion with Walker remains a possibility. They are likely to sign at least one reliever, though not a high-end closer, such as Aroldis Chapman.
Catcher is another unsettled position for the Mets, who are beginning to look past onetime uber-prospect d'Arnaud. However, there is a dearth of talent at the position on the open market, with Baltimore's Matt Wieters headlining a weak class.
Wild card scenario: If the Mets are feeling creative, there are two places they could look to swing deals. One would be in the outfield, where they might shop Bruce around to fill other needs. The other would be at catcher, where perhaps another team might be interested in seeing if d'Arnaud can fulfill his potential. Much like last year, when the Mets traded for Walker, a trade could be their best route to smoothing out the roster, allowing them to free up money to invest in free agents elsewhere.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.