The 2015 Mets season was a very interesting experiment, finally giving Sandy Alderson the formula for success. Which is why this off-season could be an easy one. Or it could also be very, very hard.
Last off-season, Alderson built a team that proved to be competitive, but just not good enough to win. He identified the weak spots — better bench players, veteran relievers and most importantly, a huge bat for the middle of the lineup — and went out and filled them. It turned the Mets into a World Series team.
So now Alderson knows what he has to do to make a return trip to the Fall Classic, which is what makes this a potentially easy off-season. However, knowing what to do and actually pulling it off could prove to be very difficult.
The bench should not be a problem. If he choses not to re-sign Kelly Johnson and/or Juan Uribe, there should be plenty of quality veterans out there to acquire. But Alderson now knows the likes of Darrell Ceciliani and Danny Muno will not get it done.
The bullpen also could be easy. Addison Reed is still under team control; he just needs a tender. One more veteran to go with the Mets young crop of relievers should do the trick.
Now to the big bat, which is the biggest need and the hardest one to fill. If the Mets do not want to spend the money and years on Yoenis Cespedes, where do they turn? Other slugging free agents will likely cost just as much. And Alderson is correctly reluctant to part with any of his young starters in a trade. So what to do?
That’s what might make this such a difficult off-season for Sandy Alderson. Plus, the always present financial restrictions might make it impossible to put the necessary pieces in place to sustain this year’s winning.
Or maybe it will be easy. It can go either way.