Anytime a Major League Baseball team needs to sign their ace, their closer, and their centerfielder in the same off season, they have to commit plenty of resources all at once. When those players are the top free closer in Edwin Diaz, the top free agent starting pitcher (whether that’s deGrom or Verlander) and the top free agent center fielder like Brandon Nimmo, that’s a lot of work to do in one off season.
One way to mitigate those limited resources is to play some rookies. If you have two or three roster spots earning the absolute league minimum, that gives teams a couple of extra millions to spend on the high-end players that need to be re-signed.
You also have to look at the Mets team in 2022, to see why they should play the rookies to start 2023.
The Mets scored plenty of runs to start the season, and of course were in first place for most of the season. This, while getting almost zero production from the roster spots that Vientos, Alvarez and Baty would take over.
Dom Smith had a slugging percentage of .284 for the Mets in 2022. JD Davis – coming off off-season hand surgery – was slightly better at .359. These are poor numbers. The catcher position wasn’t any better, and I don’t even want to look up those weak numbers.
The ceiling for the Mets rookies is really high. If all goes right this season, all 3 of them could hit 20 homers each. Thinks how much better the Mets offense would be, with an extra 50–60 bombs!
I don’t think those projections are too far-fetched, either. All 3 hit the ball really, really hard. I know most Mets fans are more concerned about batting averages than exit velocities. Major League teams, however, love guys that hit strikes hard.
So, we have three guys who could be really good this season, replacing at least two guys who gave the Mets zero production last season. The bar is already set incredibly low thanks to the poor performances of both Davis and Smith this past season.
Right now would also be an ideal time to work a rookie or two into the everyday lineup. The Mets have a unique mix of older veterans like Mark Canha and Sterling Marte. And the Mets have some younger, home-grown vets like Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso. Those are two guys who could probably relate to everything a rookie playing in NYC would go through.
And this Mets lineup is good! We all saw the runs they put on the board most of last season. So, the lineup wouldn’t be depending on the rookies to lead the team. They would just need to contribute what they could, while getting top-level experience where every game is important.
Outside the Mets organization, there also aren’t many players available right now, that will clearly and definitely be better in 2023 than the Mets rookies. I’m sure there are some better players out there. But can we say for sure those players absolutely will be better? With that uncertainty comes a price too.
So, why pay for a full season of a player, who might not be better than what you have now?
Which brings us to the next point. If Baty, Vientos and Alvarez underperform, Mets General Manager Bill Eppler has a chance to redeem himself at the trade deadline. The types of players the Mets could sign right now, to boost the offensive, will be the same types of players available at the trade deadline.
Waiting until the trade deadline also lets the Mets see who is and who isn’t having a good season. There isn’t much sense in signing a guy now, only to have to replace him at the trade deadline if he underperforms.
I started this piece a while back, right before news broke of the Mets interest in singing Carlos Correa to play third base. Once he was signing, I didn’t see the point of continuing this article. Having Correa at third this season would have been amazing!
Signing Correa would have been a nice bonus for the New York Mets. He would clearly be an upgrade this season, over Bret Baty. But, going forward, Correa not signing with the Mets could be better, in the long run.
Adding a player of Correa’s ability would have been a nice bonus, but the New York Mets have 3 impressive rookies in Bret Baty, Francisco Alvarez and Mark Vientos. As there aren’t any clear upgrade’s available now, all three rookies could and should see plenty of playing time in Queens in 2023.
Who do you think will have the most impact in 2023? Mark Vienots, Bret Baty, Fransisco Alvarez or Carlos Correa?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below