By: Joe Messineo

3 Ways That the Mets-Royals Opening Day Game Will Look Different From the World Series


Yearlong interleague play has some funny consequences, and we’re about to see one of them for the first time ever. Never before in baseball history have the previous year’s two World Series teams faced off on Opening Day, but on the first day of the 2016 season, we’ll get to see exactly that. The defending National League Champion New York Mets will travel to Kansas City to take on the defending American League Champion Kansas City Royals, and all eyes will be on the epic rematch. But it won’t quite be a true rematch, because both teams are likely to look very different. Here’s what may be changed.

Ben Zobrist Could Be on the Opposite Team

Every team wants free agent IF/OF Ben Zobrist, because every team could use him. But few teams are as desperate for his services as the Mets, who need him for every imaginable reason: lack of infield depth, lack of outfield depth, lack of strong defense, and a need for lefty bats (Zobrist can switch-hit). The Mets are a big-market team coming off a pennant-winning season, and while they swear they won’t make big free agent splashes, the moderately overpriced Zobrist is likely to be the player they’re willing to overspend on. Don’t be surprised if Ben Zobrist starts the season as a Met, playing against his old team.

The Mets Offensive Stars Will Almost Certainly Be Gone

The Mets were all about their pitching for most of the 2015 season, but they became a much more complete team at the trade deadline when they acquired superstar slugger Yoenis Cespedes. But Cespedes was a rental, and is now a free agent. He’d love to stay with the Mets, but he’s going to command a massive contract – one that the Mets have already indicated they’re unlikely to offer.

Along with Cespedes, Mets 2B Daniel Murphy seems likely to depart. The second-longest tenured Met declined a qualifying offer from his team and is now a free agent. He’s likely to get a four-year deal, and unless he takes a significant hometown discount, it seems unlikely that the Mets will sign him.

Johnny Cueto Probably Won’t Be in Town

Johnny Cueto was signed by the Royals to be their postseason ace, and though he performed unevenly in the playoffs, he came up big in the World Series. If Cueto returns to Kansas City, he’d be the presumed Opening Day starter. But will he?

The Royals would love to bring him back, but a superstar ace may not be in their budget this offseason. They’re going to make a huge push to re-sign free agent outfielder Alex Gordon. We’ve left Gordon out of this piece so far because we think he’ll be back. But while Gordon’s position with the team will likely be unchanged, his salary will be very, very different. And the cost of re-signing the face of their franchise may put the Royals out of the running for a top-flight ace, at least until the trade deadline.

About Joe Messineo

Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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