The New York Mets are doing themselves and Dominic Smith a disservice by not trading him to a team in need of a starting first baseman.
It took a bit longer than expected for Rosario to do his share, but he turned a corner last summer and put up crazy numbers from June on. But Smith, despite the best season of his young career last year, has no place for consistent playing time on this roster.
Keeping him on this roster is a disservice to the Mets, especially after he showed promise to being a legitimate professional ballplayer.
That wording might not make sense, but here’s why it’s the truth.
He lost the first base job to Pete Alonso. He is a bad defensive outfielder, and J.D. Davis had a better season at the plate last year. Center field and right field are taken by Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, respectively. Jake Marisnick is an elite glove, and Yoenis Cespedes, if healthy, can still be one of baseball’s most frightening players on both sides of the ball.
All the credit goes to Smith for his well-noted weight loss and his battle against his sleep apnea. Smith has had a tough going in his first two-and-a-half years as a ballplayer.
But right now, he seems to be a fourth outfielder, at best, and can fall to as low as the team’s sixth outfielder. He seems to be the backup first baseman, but Matt Adams, also a lefty, who has hit 20 or more home runs in each of the last three seasons, is also a candidate for that role.
Several teams right now could plug Smith in as their first baseman on Opening Day.
Smith played in a career-high 89 games last year while spending two months on the Injured List with a stress reaction in his left foot. He also belted a career-high 11 homers and drove in 25 runs, while posting a slash line of .282/.355/.881, all career-bests.
Smith regained much of his previous trade value last season, and the Mets have a viable option to play first whenever Alonso needs a day off in Adams.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen has also said that Robinson Cano could see time at first base if necessary. If that is not a possibility, the designated hitter moving to the National League still remains. Remember, Andres Gimenez is on the rise to be the second baseman of the future.
The Mets have depleted much of their farm system over the last 15 months—they lost Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade, and they gave Toronto left-hander Anthony Kay and righty Simeon Woods Richardson to acquire Marcus Stroman, who will be a free agent after this season.
If there are question marks on whether Davis can repeat his 2019 on a full-time basis, then it makes sense for Smith to remain on the team and get plugged in as the team’s permanent left fielder.
But with a farm system that could use a boost, and several players set to hit free agency, including two starting pitchers, after this season, trading someone who will struggle to earn himself 300 at-bats (he has yet to have 200 plate appearances in his career) may not seem like the worst idea.