General manager Sandy Alderson on Monday laid out a rough plan to return the Mets to contention despite a payroll that is expected to fall from $155 million.

“As usual, we’ll try to be creative,” Alderson said on the first day of the general managers’ meetings. “At the same time, we definitely want to be competitive and feel like we can be competitive.”

Pitching remains the key to a turnaround after a 70-92 season. The plan includes significantly beefing up the bullpen, shortening outings for most of their starters and revamping the way the pitching staff is prepared from the winter all the way into the regular season.

It entails hiring a new head trainer, adding two staffers to the training staff and bringing in a specialist in charge of using technology to monitor workloads with the use of biometrics.

“If the pitching doesn’t come around, it doesn’t come around,” Alderson said. “The strategy to compete is really predicated on the pitching. That’s the strength of our team. If we end up with the same problems with the pitching this year that we had last year, it ain’t going to happen. We’re not going to be competitive.”

The Mets also have holes to address in the field.

Alderson said he will be in the hunt for a middle-of-the-order hitter capable of playing rightfield and first base. Versatility is key because Michael Conforto might not be healed from shoulder surgery by Opening Day. Prospect Dominic Smith is not guaranteed a spot at first base because of his September struggles and his ongoing battle to control his weight.