With Opening Day about three weeks away, the 26-man roster the Mets could begin the regular season with is coming into sharper focus.
The injury to Jose Quintana has left a hole in the rotation, several prospects are continuing to make their case for strong consideration, and a number of pitchers on the bullpen bubble are impressing.
It’s true that spring training stats don’t matter much, if at all. How a player looks should matter, though. And in the case of some of the Mets’ prospects, there’s an argument to be made that if they’re ready, there’s no reason to mess around. Are a few of them ready?
Here is our roster prediction 3.0…
Brett Baty/Eduardo Escobar3B
Daniel Vogelbach/Tommy PhamDH
The first iteration of our roster prediction, which we published back in the middle of January, had Francisco Alvarez on it in a hybrid catching/DH role.
Alvarez, who is coming off an ankle injury, has been eased this spring when it comes to catching. He has caught just twice, and started behind the plate only once. Meanwhile, in listening to Mets brass speak, it’s crystal clear that Alvarez will only make the roster if one of their other catchers suffers an injury.
There are other prospects who are raising eyebrows, though.
One of them is Baty, who was hitting close to .500 entering play on Friday and who has been working hard on his defense — including his agility — at third base.
SNY’s Andy Martino has noted that the Mets feel Baty isn’t quite a finished product at third base. But it’s fair to note that Escobar was among the worst defensive third basemen in baseball last season. So unless the Mets think Baty would be impacted in a big way mentally if he made a few mistakes at third in the bigs, his defense should not be a reason to hold him back.
It should also be pointed out that manager Buck Showalter recently said that he believes Baty should stick at third base, in effect tossing to the side recent rumblings that Baty could be the prospect (between him and Ronny Mauricio) who potentially moves to left field.
What about Mauricio?
The 21-year-old has had an electrifying spring, with three homers and a 1.505 OPS. However, Mauricio — whose OBP last season in the minors was .296 — needs to refine his approach at the plate and learn a new position (whether it’s third base or left field). So he will almost certainly not be a consideration for the Opening Day roster.
Someone who should be a consideration is Mark Vientos, who has been absolutely scalding the ball. But in order for the Mets to carry both Baty and Vientos, they would likely have to take just seven relievers. And it’s hard to see them doing that from the jump. In a world where Baty is left off the roster for some reason, though, Vientos should be on it and be the DH against lefties.
The rib injury to Quintana has thrown a wrench in the rotation plans, but New York is well-equipped to handle it.
Peterson and Taylor Megill are the logical options to replace Quintana, and while Megill might have more upside, it seems like the Mets will turn to the more experienced Peterson — who was a strong rotation contributor last season.
If Peterson is indeed in the rotation, it removes Megill from the bullpen conversation (if he was even seriously in it) and means he’ll stay stretched out at Triple-A Syracuse.
John Curtiss RHP
Zach Greene, RHP
Our first roster prediction had the hard-throwing but erratic Bryce Montes de Oca nabbing one of the final spots, but we had Greene replace him on our roster prediction 2.0. Greene stays on the roster here.
Since he was a Rule 5 pick, the Mets must carry him on the 26-man roster (unless he is on the IL) for the entire season or offer him back to the Yankees.
The 25-year-old hasn’t gotten a taste of the majors yet, but he struck out 13.7 per nine in 2021 and 12.6 per nine in 2022 — during a season where he had a 3.42 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in Triple-A . So he’s definitely worth a look.
A change in our roster prediction 3.0 is the addition of Nogosek at the expense of Joey Lucchesi. Nogosek has gotten serious burn this spring and is out of options, so bet on the Mets carrying him.
As far as the aforementioned Montes de Oca, he has been borderline ridiculous in spring training games, mixing in 101 and 102 mph fastballs with 95 mph cutters while bedeviling opposing hitters. He can still be wild, but his stuff is so insane that he should be the first man up when the Mets need a bullpen reinforcement.
Tommy Pham, DH/OF
No changes here.
Nido and Guillorme are making the team.
Then there’s Vogelbach and Pham, who will likely be alternating between the DH spot and the bench.
Darin Rufwho remains on the roster, could possibly be in 2023 what he was for most of his career before coming to Queens last summer — a guy who excels against left-handed pitching.
But with Vogelbach and Pham already on the roster, it’s very hard to justify also carrying Ruf, which would give the Mets three guys who have little to no versatility. That means a trade of Ruf — who recently made his spring training debut after dealing with a wrist injury — should happen before Opening Day.