The Mets announced tonight that they have placed a right-hander Trevor May on the injured list, without providing a designation. Fellow right-hander Bryce Montes de Oca has been selected to take his place on the roster. Montes de Oca was not previously on the 40-man roster, which was full before these moves. Those facts, combined with the fact that the club did not provide an injury diagnosis, points to May being on the COVID IL. Players on that list do not count against a club’s 40-man roster.
At this point, it’s not clear whether May tested positive for the virus, as players can also land on the IL for experiencing symptoms or for viral exposure. Without a positive test, there’s no minimum stay on the IL. But in the case of a positive test, MLB’s 2022 health regulations stipulate a 10-day absence, although a pair of negative PCR tests and approval from a trio of medical professionals (team doctor, league-appointed doctor, MLBPA-appointed doctor) can override that 10-day requirement.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for May, as he struggled immensely out of the gate. He had an 8.64 ERA after about a month, at which point he was placed on the IL due to triceps inflammation. He was out of action for about three months, returning at the beginning of August and posting much better results. He has a 3.86 ERA since his return, along with an excellent 35.9% strikeout rate and 7.7% walk rate.
Montes de Oca, 26, was a ninth-round pick of the Mets in the 2018 draft. He missed the 2018 and 2019 campaigns due to injury and then 2020 due to the pandemic. He finally made his professional debut in 2021, climbing to Double-A by season’s end. This year, he started back at Double-A and posted a 3.12 ERA in 17 1/3 innings, striking out 31.2% of batters faced while getting grounders on 68.4% of balls in play. He did walk an obscene 18.2% of batters faced, but nevertheless got a promotion to Triple-A. He’s since registered a 3.90 ERA in 30 innings there, with a 35.3% strikeout rate, 37.7% ground ball rate and 15.4% walk rate. In July, FanGraphs ranked him the #25 prospect in the Mets’ system, noting that his fastball sits in the upper 90s with tailing movement. He will make his major league debut as soon as he gets into a game.
It’s not clear whether Montes de Oca has had his contract selected in the traditional way or as a COVID “substitute.” In the latter case, he would be eligible to be removed from the 40-man roster without first being exposed to waivers. Under the 2022 health and safety protocols, commissioner Rob Manfred has the sole discretion to determine whether teams are sufficiently impacted by COVID-19 to add a substitute to the roster.