Peterson shoves, and how can Baty make the Mets roster?
David Peterson tosses four hitless innings in the club's loss on Tuesday. Plus, what has to happen for Brett Baty to make the Opening Day roster?
What’s Up with the Mets? 🌴
The Mets lost to the Nationals 5-0 on Monday in Port St. Lucie (box)
LHP David Peterson hurled four shutout innings, allowing zero hits and striking out five
1B/DH Daniel Vogelbach went 1-for-3 with a double in the loss
LHP Brooks Raley and RHP Kodai Senga are both expected to be able to return to the team by Opening Day
Rule 5 draft pick RHP Zach Greene cleared waivers and was returned to the Yankees
Injury Updates 🏥
LHP José Quintana has a lesion on his rib and was seen by a tumor specialist, though the results of a biopsy came back benign
Quintana will undergo bone graft surgery and isn’t expected to return to the club until at least July
Mets in the World Baseball Classic 🌎
Omar Narváez (Venezuela) 🇻🇪 1-for-3
Today’s Game 🦩
Game 1️⃣7️⃣ of 3️⃣0️⃣
Match-up: Mets vs. Cardinals
Where: Clover Park, Port St. Lucie, FL
Starters: RHP Justin Verlander vs. LHP Connor Thomas
When: 1:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
What has to happen for Brett Baty to make the Opening Day roster? ✍🏻
All spring long it’s been assumed that the Mets roster was all-but locked in for the start of the 2023 season, but Brett Baty sure has had something to say about that lately.
The Mets wunderkind, who ranks as the top third base prospect in all of baseball, has been tearing the cover off the ball during Spring Training, hitting .379/.471/.517 with a home run, double, five RBI and a .988 OPS across 14 games. It’s gotten to the point recently where he’s hit so well that people are beginning to wonder if he can’t crack the club’s Opening Day roster after all.
That being said, there are still circumstances outside of Baty’s hot hitting that could make his chances of breaking camp with the club slimmer. So, what exactly does need to happen for Baty to make the team?
Scenario #1: The Mets cut bait with Darin Ruf
In what seems to be the most obvious move, and the one that Mets fans would likely support in droves, the club could open up a roster spot by cutting ties with Darin Ruf.
After being acquired by the team at last season’s trade deadline, Ruf was awful, batting just .152/.216/.197 with no home runs, seven RBI and 20 strikeouts in 74 plate appearances. And though not many expected Ruf to survive the offseason by still being with the organization, he did, in fact, get himself another opportunity to perform his way onto the team this spring. After wrist arthritis held him back for the first week or so, Ruf’s struggles have carried over as the veteran right-hander is 2-for-11 (.182) at the plate to kick-off his spring slate.
In all transparency, even if Ruf were to have a big Spring Training there is little logic to keeping him on the roster to start the 2023 regular season. Perhaps the team could elect to place him on the injured list to start the year and see how Baty, or maybe even Mark Vientos, performs in his stead but either way, Ruf is a clear obstacle here.
Scenario #2: Mark Vientos cools off
As mentioned in the first scenario, even if the Mets did move on from Darin Ruf in one way or another, they may deem one of their other prospects as a better fit to take his place. Mark Vientos, the team’s 8th ranked prospect, is also performing well this spring, hitting .282/.300/.513 with two home runs, three doubles and nine RBI in 14 games.
Not only that but Vientos also historically has raked against left-handed pitching, hitting .315/.401/.692 with 14 home runs, seven doubles, 40 RBI and a 1.094 OPS against southpaws in the minor leagues last season.
While Vientos isn’t as highly touted as Baty, his right-handedness and proficiency against lefties could very well give him the edge there. In the scenario where the team moves on from Ruf, the Mets would need someone to slide into that right-handed DH spot. Unless Vientos gets injured or massively cools off over the next couple weeks, he could wind up being Baty’s biggest obstacle.
Scenario #3: Moving on from Tommy Pham
This one is the least likely scenario so far, to be honest. Not only would the Mets have to eat the $6 million owed to Tommy Pham before ever having him play a single regular season game, but releasing him would also mean that the team has no singular fourth outfielder on their roster.
While Baty and Jeff McNeil do have outfield experience, it’s unlikely that the team would want either of them having to serve that fourth outfielder role so consistently. And even if they did cut Pham, Tim Locastro (1.025 OPS in 31 at-bats) would have a pretty strong case of replacing him on the Opening Day roster.
That being said it is still worth noting that Pham, who posted an 87 OPS+ last season, has struggled in a massive way to start his tenure with the team. In 10 games this spring, Pham is 2-for-28 at the plate with no home runs, one RBI and seven strikeouts. After several very productive seasons, Pham has posted a .696 OPS over his last three major league seasons which suggests that the 35-year-old outfielder could be on the downside of his career.
Still, even with owner Steve Cohen’s massive wallet, it does seem doubtful that the club would willingly cut a player that they just signed to a $6 million contract this very offseason before ever playing a real game.
Around the League 🚩
Dodgers 1B Freddie Freeman left Team Canada’s victory over Colombia with a hamstring injury
Venezuela improved to a perfect 3-0 in the first round of the World Baseball Classic after their 5-0 win over Nicaragua
The Braves optioned RHPs Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder to minor league camp
Baty starts in Syracuse and is the first man up when injury strikes, or if someone really tanks it by May 1. I don't see him being rushed and then sitting on the bench when he could be getting in work in the 'Cuse.