Mets as NL East favorites in 2019? GM Brodie Van Wagenen is thinking that way during busy offseason

Ready for some bold words from first-year New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen? Good ... 

For the sake of posterity, let's highlight the most notable of Van Wagenen's words in this clip ... 

"Internally we would argue we're the favorites in the division right now"

Bold stuff, indeed. Haters and or motivators will leap to the prevailing reality that the Mets last season finished eight games below .500, 13 games out of first place in the NL East, and in fourth place. On the other hand, Van Wagenen's Mets have been perhaps the most active team (at least among non-rebuilders) of the 2018-19 offseason to date. Consider how their likely 2019 lineup will look (at least until Yoenis Cespedes returns from injury)... 

  1. Brandon Nimmo, RF
  2. Todd Frazier, 3B
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Michael Conforto, LF
  5. Wilson Ramos, C
  6. Jeff McNeil, 1B
  7. Amed Rosario, SS
  8. Juan Lagares, CF

The Mets of course acquired Cano in a blockbuster with the Mariners, and they just recently inked a free agent contract with Ramos. Another recent signee, Rajai Davis, fortifies the bench. 

On the pitching front, the rotation from last season is fully intact (despite some heavy Noah Syndergaard trade rumors from not so long ago), and Edwin Diaz, who came over in that Cano trade, has the closer's role pinned down. Jeurys Familia is back in the fold to set up Diaz, and Rule 5 pick Kyle Dowdy is an intriguing bullpen arm. 

No doubt, those are compelling targeted additions, and they move the needle for the Mets. That said, this division houses the Braves, Nationals, and Phillies. The Braves are the reigning NL East champs, and Josh Donaldson is new to the roster. The Nats added Patrick Corbin, and even assuming Bryce Harper inks elsewhere they have a strong bounceback profile in the season to come. The Phillies have already made some noise, and they're expected to be leading contenders for Manny Machado and perhaps Bryce Harper. 

All of this is to say: The NL East looks like a highly competitive division in 2019, and tabbing the Mets as the favorites may be a bit irrationally exuberant. On this point, let's have a look at how the SportsLine Projection Model (@SportsLine on Twitter) sees the NL East for 2019 at this still-early juncture ... 

Team

Projected 2019 wins

Chances of winning NL East in 2019

Washington Nationals

94.1

71.1 percent

New York Mets

83.5

13.4 percent

Atlanta Braves

82.9

11.6 percent

Philadelphia Phillies

77.3

3.7 percent

Miami Marlins

66.1

<1 percent


Obviously, there's plenty of time for things to change, and once Harper signs elsewhere that Washington projection will come back to earth a bit. While the Mets do project as being significantly improved over last season, they're not the NL East favorites. Most years, 83-84 wins puts you in the wild-card mix, but they're likely going to have to hit the over and them some to seriously contend for the flag. Maybe the Mets' internal numbers show something different. 

So the Mets ... measurably better and potential contenders? Yea, verily. NL East favorites? Not in this space. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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