Ronny Mauricio
Courtesy IG: @rumbleponiesbb

The Mets have a terrific young prospect who’s blocked at the major league level.

On Jan. 7, the New York Mets made one of the more significant trades in the recent history of the organization. The Mets acquired Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland in a six-player deal.

Then, at the end of March, the club further pushed their chips all-in on Lindor being the future of the franchise. The Mets gave Lindor, 27, a ten-year contract worth a reported $341 million – the richest contract in the history of the franchise.

Though Lindor’s first season with the Mets wasn’t what the player or organization hoped for, it’s undeniable that he is the face of the franchise moving forward. They have invested too much money in him for there to be any other reality.

And, based on his track record, a healthy Lindor will be a strong, switch-hitting piece in the Mets’ lineup for the coming years.

Two of the players the Mets traded to Cleveland were shortstops. With Lindor coming in, there was clearly nowhere for Andres Gimenez or Amed Rosario to play – at least at their best defensive position.

Which makes sense. If you’re going to commit the next 11 years (at the time of the trade) to Lindor as your shortstop, you don’t need another shortstop for a while.

If that makes sense, it leads to another burning question as the Mets head into an offseason filled with questions. What will the Mets do with Ronny Mauricio?

Who is Ronny Mauricio?

During the 2017-18 signing period, the Mets gave Mauricio $2.1 million, one of the highest signing bonuses given during that international amateur signing period. A tall, lean shortstop, there was (and still is) a lot to like about Mauricio’s game.

Mauricio made his pro debut in 2018 and Baseball America ranked him the No. 11 prospect in the Mets’ system. He vaulted to No. 3 in the system the following year after a strong first professional system, and was ranked the Mets’ No. 1 prospect by BA entering the 2020 season.

In BA’s 2021 midseason rankings, Mauricio was ranked third behind catcher Francisco Alvarez and third baseman Brett Baty.

MLB Pipeline also ranks Mauricio third in the Mets’ system behind the same two players, and ranks Mauricio 53rd in all of baseball in their 2021 midseason rankings.

Lots of people like Mauricio. Which is great for the Mets. Until you remember Lindor is holding down his position for the next decade.
So what should the Mets do with Mauricio?

Switch-hitting shortstops who are 6-3 by their 20th birthday don’t grow on trees. Here are the scouting grades Mauricio has been given by MLB Pipeline and Baseball America:

  • Hit: 50 (MLB), 50 (BA)
  • Power: 60 (MLB), 50 (BA)
  • Run: 40 (MLB), 40 (BA)
  • Arm: 60 (MLB), 60 (BA)
  • Field: 55 (MLB), 60 (BA)

Those are solid grades for a player who will turn 21 on April 4.

Mauricio split the 2021 season between Brooklyn (High-A) and Binghamton (AA) and showed that his power is developing. After hitting seven home runs in 173 games over his first two professional seasons, Mauricio hit 20 homers with a .745 OPS in 2021. He also drove in 64 runs and stole 11 bases. But he struck out 112 times in 108 games.

All of this would lead one to believe Mauricio is on track to make his major league debut before the end of the 2023 season – when Lindor will have eight years remaining on his contract.

Which is why, we ask again, what should the Mets do with Mauricio?

What are the options?

The Mets could consider moving the athletic shortstop to another position. The Padres have worked Fernando Tatis, Jr. in the outfield over the past year and that may ultimately be where he spends significant time; the Padres also have a highly-regarded shortstop prospect coming and Tatis’ health is critical to the future of their organization.

We aren’t saying Mauricio is Tatis by any means, but moving a shortstop to another position isn’t a new idea. And he’s athletic enough that it’s a possibility.

There has been talk of him getting work at third base. He has clearly added weight to his frame and, at 6-3, could have the size to play the hot corner. The only problem(s): Baty and Mark Vientos are two of the Mets’ top prospects, and both of them are primarily third basemen.

Then there’s the conversation about trades.

When we look at the Mets’ needs this offseason, pitching is the most glaring issue. As we have discussed previously, the Mets could spend a lot of money to bring back Marcus Stroman (they should) and chase Robbie Ray in free agency.

If the Mets aren’t able to get either/both of those done, they might need to look at the trade market to help bolster a rotation that was underwhelming when Jacob deGrom missed the entire second half of the 2021 season.

And having a trade chip the caliber of Mauricio could increase the quality of pitcher the Mets are able to legitimately chase in the trade market.

Will the Mets regret trading Mauricio if/when they do? It’s possible. That depends on what the Mets get in a deal and how the player(s) acquired impact the Mets’ immediate future. The Chicago Cubs trade Gleyber Torres to the Yankees to get Aroldis Chapman in 2016 and it helped them win the World Series.

Do the Cubs regret trading Torres? They shouldn’t.

The good news is the Mets have a talented young player in their organization who isn’t far away from being ready for the big leagues.

The question is how, and where, Mauricio gets his shot at the majors. Will it be with the Mets? And will it be at shortstop? We’ll see.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.