Brodie Van Wagenen has preached positional depth all offseason, acquiring players that can play multiple positions, some of them will be competing for starting spots thanks in part to a few injuries, as well as overall performance. Here are three positional battles that can be won or lost in Port Saint Lucie.
The first base position for the Mets is very interesting this year, as top prospect Pete (not Peter) Alonso will be given every chance possible to make the Opening Day roster. He has the drive to be the Opening Day starter, working out on the back fields long before anyone else is out getting their work in. However, there is one thing that is standing in the way of Alonso and the Opening Day spot, the dreaded extra year of control.
Now although 11 games in Syracuse may not seem like a big deal, but to Alonso it is. After MASHING in AA and AAA last year (.285/36/119), he knows he is capable of being the starter going into Washington. Although Alonso can beat out Dom Smith for the spot, he may find himself with Syracuse to start the season.
Don’t necessarily count out Dom Smith either. Yes, he has been nothing but a disappointment, but he has lost even more weight and came in with a competitive attitude. He has a shot at making the roster as the starter or back up, but Smith wants to go for broke, and grab the starting spot.
The second competition to keep an eye on is the backup catchers spot. With Wilson Ramos signing with the Amazin’s for two years, he obviously will take the bulk of the starts behind the plate. But both Travis d’Arnaud and Devin Mesoraco have a fair shot at grabbing that back up roll.
Both players have an extensive injury history, most recently d’Arnaud going under the knife and getting Tommy John surgery during the 2018 season. But one thing that could potentially help Mesoraco’s case is his success with the 2018 Cy Young Award winner, Jacob deGrom. Mesoraco caught 21 of deGrom’s 25 starts last season, a spot he took from d’Arnaud when he was on the shelf.
Could they carry three catchers? Sure. But the edge should be given to Mesoraco to make the roster Opening Day due in part to his success and the fact that d’arnaud may not be 100% ready to go for March 27th.
The third and final position battle is one that if you asked who was playing third base to start the year, the simple answer was Jed Lowrie. Well throw that out the window. Both Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier have suffered setbacks due to leg injuries, both are questionable at best for Opening Day. So that leaves two names that seem likely, and one outside shot.
The Mets traded for J.D. Davis, who won the batting title in the PCL (AAA league) last season, and signed infielder Adeiny Hechavarria to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp. But one name that most Met fans may have forgotten about is T.J. Rivera.
Although this may be a short term replacement for when both Lowrie and Frazier come back, there has to be a body at third. When it is between Davis and Hechavarria, both guys have flaws. Davis did mash in AAA last year, but in the bigs, his career average is a measly .194. Hechavarria has hit .254 throughout his career, but his glove makes him a better candidate. He is a quality infielder who can make a case for starts at the hot corner.
As for T.J Rivera, his case is a little more difficult. He, just like Travis d’Arnaud has has had a career filled with injuries. In parts of two seasons in Queens, he has batted .304, but missed all of last year due in part to Tommy John. If he can come back healthy, he may be able to fit in and grab the spot from both of them.
Although some spots seem to be safe; guys like Cano, Nimmo, and Conforto all have their spots set in stone, there are some spots open. All these spots will be won or lost in Port St. Lucie.