King of Queens

Pitcher Jacob deGrom will be the focal point for the Mets this season as they look to contend for a playoff spot in the National League East division.

The New York Mets are going to be a serious contender in the National League playoff race in the upcoming MLB season. Perhaps this is just my perpetual false sense of optimism as a Mets fan, but this year is going to be different. Not only are the Mets returning key young hitters such as outfielders Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares, but they also made a concerted effort to bolster weaker positions with new faces over the winter.

These moves began when the Mets came to a trade agreement with the Seattle Mariners, a blockbuster deal that moved eight-time All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano and All-Star closer Edwin Diaz to New York in exchange for outfielder Jay Bruce and a handful of prospects.

This move benefits the Mets in two distinct ways. First, in acquiring Cano, the Mets added the perfect combination of productivity and veteran leadership that they have been seeking for the past few years. A lifetime .304 hitter, Cano has plenty of postseason experience with the New York Yankees, including a World Series ring from the 2009 season. Hopefully Cano can use his tenure to assist and lead younger Mets players throughout the upcoming season.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, trading for Diaz gives the Mets the stud closer that they have been looking for. At just 25 years old, Diaz has already proven that he can be extremely effective out of the bullpen, made evident by his MLB-leading 57 saves last season. Diaz will ideally serve as a source of consistency for the Mets' bullpen as they look to compete in the tightly contested National League East division.

As for free agency, it seems as though the Mets have finally decided to spend some smart money. General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen filled many roster needs for the Mets, all of which will help them make a run this coming season.

Signing catcher Wilson Ramos will surely pay dividends this season for New York. The Mets have deployed a platoon of catchers for over 10 years, but Ramos can hopefully become the Mets' first true everyday catcher since Mike Piazza and Paul Lo Duca, both of whom have been retired since the early 2000s.

Additionally, the acquisitions of rotational utility players such as Jed Lowrie, Carlos Gomez, Keon Broxton and J.D. Davis will provide manager Mickey Callaway with some much-needed depth in both the outfield and the infield, especially if a regular starter suffers an injury at any point this season.

In addition to the many new faces in the Mets' clubhouse, the team is also returning several stars and up-and-comers who will undoubtedly be relied upon for production this season. The most obvious is starting pitcher Jacob deGrom, who was awarded the N.L. Cy Young Award last season for his league-best 1.70 ERA. deGrom is arguably the best pitcher in baseball, so expectations will continue to be high heading into opening day.

Other players like shortstop Amed Rosario, pitcher Zack Wheeler and utility player Jeff McNeil will also be expected to improve both defensively and at the plate. It will be interesting to watch their progression as the season gets underway.

The Mets are usually everyone's favorite "Loveable Losers." However, with their revamped roster of new faces and returning stars, this could be the year that the Mets turn some heads.

Contact Ethan Marchetti at emarchetti@colgate.edu.

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