The New York Mets roundtable will be a new weekly article featuring multiple Red Beat writers. The six writers include: Samuel Kobylar, Josh Finkelstein, Dominick Ricotta, John Newell, Jake LeBlanc, and Justin Fried.
Don’t be afraid to comment or tweet us with questions for the upcoming weeks!
What is Dominic Smith’s future with the Mets? Will he ever become the team’s starting first baseman?
Dominick: The signing of Adrian Gonzalez during the offseason means that Dominic Smith is once again a backup at first base. Smith has been a highly touted prospect his entire career with the Mets and worked his way to a MLB debut last season.
As much as I want to see Smith succeed with the Mets he is not in a good situation. With Adrian Gonzalez in front of him and Peter Alonso waiting in the wings behind both of them, Smith needs a big season. His bat will need to improve for him to be an everyday Major League player. At certain points last season he showed potential at the plate but could not be consistent.
If Smith can become more consistent with his bat he will be fine. His specialty is out on the field with his glove, being at least a .250 batting average would make it tough for the Mets to look past him.
Samuel: Even though Smith will most likely be starting his 2018 campaign in Triple-A Las Vegas with the 35 year old Adrian Gonzalez expected to start the season as the Mets everyday first baseman, Smith will at some point get his opportunity to play in the big leagues throughout the long 162 game season.
With Gonzalez getting up there in age and limited to 71 games last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers due to injuries, you got to think at some point Smith will be back in the big leagues. Whether it is another injury or just simply a lack of production from Gonzalez, Smith should eventually get some opportunities to play every day at first base during the 2018 season.
As long as Smith stays in shape and continues to rake in Triple-A Las Vegas as he did last season, there is no doubt in my mind that Smith will be back with the Mets at some point this season. But once Smith gets recalled and gets a chance to play first base every day in the big leagues, he is going to have to prove that he is there to stay with Peter Alonso likely to be at the big league level by next season at earliest. So short term, Smith should get some playing time at first base in the big leagues this season, but long term is very unknown depending on how Smith plays this year and if Alonso continues his rapid development.
Josh: Dominic Smith to me is clearly still the first baseman of the future, at least for the time being. While the first baseman definitely did make a mistake by showing up to camp late, it is way too early in his career to start losing faith in him. He took a lot of steps this offseason to lose weight, in which he ended up losing 30 pounds. Maybe the discussion changes when Peter Alonso is further along in his development. Until that point, though, Smith is the first baseman of the future. However, Adrian Gonzalez will be the one to break camp with the team and is likely to get at least a month or so with the job.
John: At this point I think it is clear, Dom is the heir apparent to the Mets first base job. He worked extremely hard to get in great shape for this upcoming season and used his poor time in the big leagues from last season as fuel to improve himself. Smith lost between 20-30 pounds and looks great, but he got himself in the doghouse after showing up late to the teams first pregame meeting.
Smith all but ruined his already slim shot at making the major league club with this mistake. However, if the team’s brass did not see Smith as part of the future core for the Mets he probably would have been moved this offseason to acquire some Major League talent.
Dom Smith has a lot of potential both offensively and defensively. Although he probably won’t leave Spring Training with the big league club, he will most likely have a full-time job at first by the All-Star break as long he hits in AAA and Adrian Gonzalez doesn’t return to his 2014 form.
Jake: I feel like as of right now, the plan with Dominic is to have him get as much playing time in AAA as he can, and eventually bring him up this season to split time with Adrian Gonzalez. I feel like Dominic can learn alot from a player like Gonzalez. I’d like to see Dominic be the first baseman of the future, but depending on how quickly Peter Alonso develops, and how Dominic has already gotten off on the somewhat wrong foot in the organization, I would not be surprised if we deal him before he ever becomes the everyday first baseman for the Mets.
Justin: Let’s be clear with this: Dominic Smith is still the future at the first base position for the New York Mets. At least that’s the current plan. Plans are always subject to change but it’s evident that, even despite his recent struggles, management still views the big-bodied first baseman as a future starter and hopeful cornerstone of the franchise. That being said, Smith will likely start the season in Triple-A with veteran Adrian Gonzalez likely holding down the fort for the time being. The team wants the latter to polish his game a bit more and develop in the minors before he makes the jump once again to the majors. If all goes to plan, that will hopefully be at some point this season and Smith could once again resume the role of New York’s everyday first baseman, this time for good. But again, plans are always subject to change.
Who is one under-the-radar player who could make the team with a strong camp?
Dominick: Gavin Cecchini is a player to keep an eye on during the spring. Everybody knows about the Mets injury problems and their depth in the infield is not deep. Cecchini can play Second Base or Shortstop and can field both positions very well. His short time in the Major Leagues has been promising, including a bomb off of Clayton Kershaw.
Cecchini’s swing is a thing of beauty. It is the perfect line drive swing. It’s nice to see that someone in the MLB doesn’t aim for the fences every time they swing the bat.
Cecchini and Rosario will be fun to watch in the future.
Samuel: After getting traded to the Mets from the Red Sox in the trade that shipped Addison Reed to Boston, right hander Jamie Callahan got his first taste of the big leagues in September and I think he will make the Mets Opening Day roster in 2018.
In nine appearances last season, Callahan pitched 6.2 innings and allowed three earned runs and seven hits. However, he showed his efficiency by not allowing a single home run, only walking one, and striking out five. Overall, Callahan put together a solid nine appearances last season and showed that he is not afraid to throw strikes and let batters put the ball in play, which can be very effective as a middle relief pitcher.
The 23 year old Callahan was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Red Sox and can hit the upper 90s on his fastball. After having a strong big league showing in 2017, a strong Spring Training for Callahan could certainly give him a good chance of making the big league roster for Opening Day.
Josh: The under-the-radar player to watch out for is Luis Guillorme. He can flat-out field. I know he was a bigger name last year for his famous bat catch, but he has went under the radar a little bit this spring. He was added to the 40-man roster this past winter. I could very well see him making a significant impact this year and potentially taking the second base job from Asdrubal Cabrera. The Mets have been looking to improve the team’s overall defense, and a middle infield of Luis Guillorme and Amed Rosario would certainly fit the bill. Guillorme, at the moment though, is likely to start the season in triple-A. Keep an eye on him as the season progresses.
John: There are a lot of arms competing for a spot in the Mets bullpen this spring. And that is where we are likely to see an unlikely player earn a spot because there are 1-2 spots available to virtually anyone. However, I am going to make a bold prediction here and say, the Mets former first-round draft pick, Gavin Cecchini may sneak out of camp with the big league team.
Cecchini is one of the many players around the league that worked really hard to improve this offseason. If Dom Smith and Juan Lagares weren’t on the Mets roster it is likely the former first rounder would be the biggest “best shape of my life” story at Mets camp. He added 15 pounds of muscle and worked daily with Mets hitting coach Pat Roessler to improve his swing in the offseason.
Cecchini’s improvements will be one of the two reasons why he can sneak his way onto the roster. The second is the fact that the Mets are set to start the season with an aging Jose Reyes along with Asdrubal Cabrera and his bulky knees on the roster. Cecchini can play second and shortstop, so if either of those guys go down, and one probably will, he will likely be next in-line to take their spot on the roster.
Jake: As much as I want to say Tim Tebow, I can’t bring myself to believe it. I feel like Gavin Cecchini has the most to gain this spring. He has had very short stints in the majors the past 2 years, and hasn’t done anything too spectacular. In his 83 total at bats, he batted .217, with an OBP of .270, 9 RBI’s and 1 HR. But, he’s still young, only 24, and I feel like he can develop into a pretty good middle infielder. I can see him taking over as a utility player once Reyes is gone, or take over the 2nd base role after Cabrera. So if Cecchini can have a good spring, he should be the next man up if one of Reyes or Cabrera goes down with injury, and it’s probably a pretty good bet that at least one of them sees time on the DL throughout this season.
Justin: Matt Purke should be a name to watch out for this Spring Training. For the most part, it seems that the bench players are mostly set for the Mets, but the bullpen is more open to discussion. As of now, there are only four locks to make the Opening Day roster in the bullpen, that being Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos, Anthony Swarzak, and Jerry Blevins, the latter being the only lefty of the bunch.
If the Mets opt to carry more than one southpaw, Purke is the probable candidate. A former first-round selection of the Texas Rangers and top prospect for the Washington Nationals, Purke has suffered multiple injury setbacks, including undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014, which have hampered his career. To this point, the 27-year-old has only appeared in 12 MLB games all of which with the Chicago White Sox in 2016.
With a strong camp, Purke could thrust his name into the conversation regarding the final couple bullpen spots. The 6’4” southpaw comes in to Spring Training as a virtual nobody, but a solid showing could help him find his way onto the Mets roster, much like a fellow journeyman lefty did just a few years back. Scott Rice anyone?