NEW YORK -- The New York Mets have been quiet this offseason. So far, they have signed only two players, both to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training: utility player Ty Kelly and reliever Stolmy Pimentel.
Still, team officials predict things will significantly pick up next week at the winter meetings in Nashville.
Here is a primer of what to expect from the reigning National League champions:
1. Get a Zobrist resolution
The Mets like Ben Zobrist, who would primarily serve as a second baseman if he came to Queens. Still, there is a healthy dose of skepticism Zobrist, 34, will end up with the Mets. Team officials privately appear unwilling to offer him a four-year deal, so Zobrist might be headed elsewhere. Assuming that's the case, the Mets still hold out hope Daniel Murphy will return, although that probably would require Murphy to give them a hometown discount. If that fails to materialize, too, the Mets probably will turn their focus to upgrading the outfield to offset the expected departure of Yoenis Cespedes as a free agent. A trade for a shortstop no longer is likely. If they do not obtain a starter, the Mets still would need to sign a backup infielder, whether that's bringing back free agent Kelly Johnson or adding someone else of that ilk. The team is prepared to have a starting middle-infielder combination of Wilmer Flores at shortstop and prospect Dilson Herrera at second base.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports the Nationals, Dodgers and Giants are the Mets’ primary competitors for Zobrist, who is expected to sign during next week’s winter meetings.
2. Give center attention
Manager Terry Collins has pledged to use Michael Conforto as a full-time player rather than platoon him in 2016. And Curtis Granderson, arguably the team's MVP last season, is locked into the other corner spot. So the Mets ideally need a lefty-hitting complement to Juan Lagares in center field to round out their outfield. Lagares hit only .253/.271/.328 against right-handed pitching last season. Free agents remaining on the market include Denard Span, Dexter Fowler, Gerardo Parra and Will Venable. Trade options potentially include Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. and Arizona's Ender Inciarte. Michael Cuddyer, due to earn $12.5 million in 2016, will round out the outfield. His playing time might be limited next season, though. Cuddyer figures to start against most left-handed pitching, rotating among left field, right field and first base.
The Mets do have a particular eye on Fowler, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
3. Set up the bullpen
The Mets tendered contracts to Addison Reed and Jenrry Mejia on Wednesday, giving them a pair of options leading into closer Jeurys Familia -- at least once Mejia serves the remaining 99 games of his second PED-related suspension. Still, with Tyler Clippard expected to depart as a free agent, team officials desire one more bona fide setup man. Free-agent options still available include Tony Sipp and Antonio Bastardo, both of whom have the bonus of being left-handed. The Mets should get Josh Edgin back from Tommy John surgery on or near Opening Day, although they could use a safety net in left-handed relief.