Many pundits and scribes have attempted to figure out the core players for the New York Mets. The list has varied over the course of the 2013 season, but the core (at least for 2014) has finally been identified by a key organization official. Jeff Wilpon, son of owner Fred Wilpon and the Mets' COO, told reporters on Tuesday that he only considers four players as locks to be on the roster in 2014, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. The four players considered locks by Wilpon are third baseman David Wright and starting pitchers Dillon Gee, Jonathon Niese, and Zack Wheeler.
Wilpon's statements come at a critical time in the offseason, as free agency is set to begin within the next week. Wilpon further described the Mets as a "team in transition", and re-iterated that the team has increased payroll flexibility this winter. General Manager Sandy Alderson will have a lot of room to maneuver this winter, and the definition of the four players the Mets don't want to part with opens some intriguing questions.
One area that figures to be addressed is the team's problem at first base. Wilpon described the situation as a "glut" and acknowledged that the organization has received calls regarding some of its first baseman. Vulnerable players at first could include Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, and even Daniel Murphy as well. Murphy's omission from the list of core players is surprising given that Alderson indicated the Mets would likely go forward with Murphy on a radio interview last month. Murphy is someone the Mets like, but it appears they would be willing to move him for the right player.
Another notable name not on the list of untouchable players for 2014 is catcher Travis d'Arnaud. d'Arnaud started off his career slowly, but he was widely expected to be given another shot as the club's catcher next year. The Mets have said they may need a creative approach to acquire a slugger via trade, and flipping d'Arnaud could be a way to solve that problem. The Mets clearly have a lot of work to do going forward, but Wilpon's comments should offer a bit of guidance to future moves the team will make this winter.
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