The New York Mets purged its roster of a slew of veteran players. Did the team purge the leadership as well?
Although some of the players listed above underperformed during their time with the Mets, their leadership skills on and off the field made a lasting imprint in New York’s clubhouse—and on the youngsters within it.
With that group of veterans no longer part of the organization, who is positioned to fill the leadership void their departures left?
Infielder Jose Reyes, who has spent 11 seasons with New York, possesses a ‘team-first’ attitude. Back in June, he told Ethan Sears of the New York Post that he was looking forward to Amed Rosario taking over his spot as the team’s everyday shortstop. But it’s inevitable that the 34-year-old’s time in Flushing is limited. So he’s not a real candidate.
Two other veteran players that could fill the leadership void are left fielder Yoenis Céspedes and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. While the two 31-year-olds have played relatively well when healthy, neither one has been known as a vocal leader over the course of their careers.
The same could be said for outfielder Michael Conforto. This season, the lone Mets’ All-Star established himself as one of the game’s best two-way players.
Conforto’s selfless attitude both on and off the field is a strong indication that he is also a ‘team-first’ player, and is willing to do whatever it takes in order for the Mets to be successful.
Unlike Reyes, Céspedes, and Cabrera, Conforto is going to spend many years in Queens, and his leadership skills should only continue to grow.
He’s never complained about where he’s hit in the lineup, and this year, he’s been one of the team’s most consistent hitters.
Yesterday, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that Mets manager Terry Collins wasn’t going to force the 24-year-old into a leadership role.
“Terry was telling me not to force myself into a leadership role and that I should let it happen naturally,” Conforto told Brooks. “That makes a lot of sense.
That doesn’t mean that Collins doesn’t believe Conforto is a future leader of this team, though. “I think ultimately down the road, in the big picture,” Collins remarked to Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News, “he will be a huge force in the clubhouse.”
But with few elder statesmen left, Conforto may be one of the few ‘veterans’ on the roster come Opening Day 2018. From an everyday player standpoint, there really isn’t a better choice to lead than Conforto.
Whether it be the 2015 playoffs or in an injury-filled 2017 regular season, Conforto has shined when facing pressure to perform. It’s hard to imagine that an increased leadership role would hurt his production.
Of course, when there’s a leader among position players, there’s typically one among pitchers as well. While the injured Noah Syndergaard was unquestionably the team’s ace heading into the season, it’s Jacob deGrom who is best positioned to lead the staff.
Without deGrom’s efforts, the Mets would probably have a record far worse than their current 54-68 mark. Really, it’s probably not a stretch to say that they’d be at least 20 games under .500 without deGrom’s deGrominance.
Longtime third baseman David Wright has been working hard to try and recover from injury after injury in order to man the hot corner once again this season.
When healthy, Wright is the unquestioned leader of this team. But the 34-year-old’s playing days are quickly nearing an end. If he’s going to once again lead this team, it’ll likely be as a coach, not as an active player.
Through calling up Rosario, Dominic Smith, Chris Flexen, Gavin Cecchini, Brandon Nimmo, Matt Reynolds, and a handful of other young players, it is obvious that New York has transitioned from a veteran-filled team to one filled with inexperienced youngsters.
If the future is going to be as bright for the Mets as many believe it will be, Conforto and deGrom must embrace their roles as leaders—both on and off the field.