Fans of the New York Mets don’t want to hear this, but Amed Rosario is exactly where he belongs, in Las Vegas.Widely considered the best shortstop prospect in baseball (and one of the game’s top prospects, regardless of position), Rosario has been tearing up the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, hitting .337 with 26 extra-base hits and a .877 OPS.
Those are Ruthian numbers compared to the .215 batting average and .634 OPS that Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes have combined for while manning short for the Mets this season.
With Cabrera (thumb) and second baseman Neil Walker (hamstring) both on the disabled list, it would seem an opportune time to give Rosario a chance in the big leagues.
But it’s not.
If the Mets were in the thick of a pennant race or within shouting distance of a wild-card berth, promoting Rosario would make a ton of sense. But the Mets are anything but contenders.
Sure, it’s too early to say definitively that this team can’t make a run to get back in the thick of things, but facts are facts, and the ugly truth is this: It’s mid-June and the team is staring at double-digit deficits in the races for both the NL East and the NL Wild Card.
There’s no shortage of blame to go around for such an awful showing, but the biggest issue in Flushing has been the pitching staff. Would Rosario’s defensive chops help improve, say, the rotation’s 4.98 ERA?
To some degree, they would. But unless he has suddenly developed a wipeout curveball, Rosario can’t fix what truly ails the big club: That the team’s biggest strength—pitching—has become a glaring weakness due to injuries and ineffectiveness.
After all, outpitching the competition was always the key to the team’s chances of success in 2017. With Jacob deGrom, Robert Gsellman and little else, that’s something the Mets just can’t do.
What the Mets can do, with MLB’s Jul. 31 non-waiver trade deadline just over six weeks away, is clear a path for Rosario to get regular playing time in the big leagues.
“We want to make sure when Rosario or any of our top prospects come up, we don’t want them to go back,” general manager Sandy Alderson told Newsday’s David Lennon recently.
But in order to ensure that Rosario is here to stay once he arrives, the Mets will have to find a taker for Cabrera, who is going to have to play once he’s medically cleared to return to action.
Potentially interested suitors are going to want to see a healthy Cabrera in the field. Sitting on the bench while the Mets try to showcase isn’t going to help Rosario’s development.
Speaking of development, the 21-year-old has played just 122 games above the Single-A level. While he may not have anything left to prove in the minors, another month or so of seasoning at Triple-A isn’t going to hurt.
In fact, it might actually help. Let Rosario continue to rake and build his confidence. Let him continue to work on the little things that often go unnoticed, and allow him to do so away from the pressure cooker that is New York.
With the 2017 season is shaping up to be a lost one for the denizens of Citi Field, there’s no reason to rush Rosario’s arrival. Soon enough, the team’s focus will shift to 2018 and beyond, a future in which Rosario will play an integral role.
No matter how unpopular it may be, keeping Rosario down on the farm until after the non-waiver trade deadline is the right move to make. When he does finally arrive, the wait will have been worth it for a player who has a chance to be truly Amazin’.