As the Mets prepare for Opening Day later this month in Miami, there are some intriguing storylines developing. A lot of the young prospects are performing at a high level, while several expected veteran contributors have struggled.
And yes, it’s still early in spring training. And sure, prospects like Mark Vientos, Brett Baty, and Ronny Mauricio are probably facing non-MLB pitching. But so are veterans like Eduardo Escobar, Darin Ruf, and Tommy Pham… and they’re not hitting.
Performances for Mets Vets
Ruf made his spring debut on Tuesday night for the Mets after getting a cortisone shot in his wrist. However, it appears as though he’s in midseason form (according to his 2022 stint in New York, at least):
Darin Ruf went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his 2023 spring training debut.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) March 8, 2023
Both of those strikeouts came on three pitches, too. That’s the definition of not great, Bob.
Escobar is off to play for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. His ramp-up in Grapefruit League action wasn’t all that great on offense, though. In 16 at-bats, Escobar slashed .125/.222/.125 with two walks and two strikeouts.
Pham signed with the Mets to be their fourth outfielder/possible option as a right-handed designated hitter. He’s racked up 19 Grapefruit League at-bats, which has led to an underwhelming .105/.227/.105 with three walks and six strikeouts.
Performances for Mets prospects
Ronny Mauricio has turned a lot of heads so far this spring. He’s fresh off an MVP campaign in the Dominican Winter League, and that momentum has followed him to Florida. He’s registered six hits, with four going for extra bases (three home runs, one double). Mauricio is tied for the team lead in dingers and RBI (seven) while boasting a 1.505 OPS.
Mark Vientos had a big three-hit day over the weekend that included nearly 900 feet worth of home runs. He’s struck out nine times with no walks in 26 at-bats, but he’s also produced three homers, seven RBI, and a .308/.308/.615 line.
And then there’s Brett Baty. His spring immediately got off to a terrific start. Things haven’t slowed down since then, either. The young third baseman is hitting .474/.524/.684 with one homer, one double, five RBI, and four runs scored.
A look at the Mets’ projected bench
If we use FanGraphs’ Mets Roster Resource page as a guide, this is what the projected Opening Day bench looks like:
- Tomas Nido, catcher
- Luis Guillorme, infielder
- Darin Ruf, first base/outfielder
- Tommy Pham, outfielder
Nido and Guillorme aren’t going anywhere, but the latter half of that bench? It’s looking suspect right now. I could be jumping the gun here since there are still about three weeks until Opening Day. However, it’s not like manager Buck Showalter and his staff aren’t already having these conversations, ya know.
Will New York make any drastic roster changes?
If Baty keeps things up, it’s going to be hard to justify sending him to Triple-A Syracuse. Especially without Escobar in camp, which opens up even more reps at third.
Mauricio is ticketed for Syracuse, but he’s certainly made his presence felt. Vientos has a case to be part of the DH platoon with Daniel Vogelbach. And of course, I haven’t mentioned the fact that Tim Locastro has been outplaying Pham for the spot on the roster that was hypothetically already his.
If things keep trending how they currently are, could Ruf and Pham be cut candidates? My guess is it would be for Ruf, but less so for Pham. If it does come to that, it’s not like the Mets can’t eat the cost of their contracts.
Ruf is scheduled to make $3 million this year, and they’re on the hook for $6 million with Pham. We saw New York make the “baseball decision” last May regarding Robinson Cano and his bloated contract (the Mets are still paying him $20.25 million this year).
We know they’re not afraid to eat salary if it’s best for the team. However, this is a different situation. My guess is they’ll still roll with the vets heading into Opening Day, especially since most of the other players mentioned have minor-league options remaining.
But who knows, right? Crazier things have happened. If things keep going in this direction, though, the cries for changes to be made will be very loud from the Mets’ passionate fan base.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.