The New York Mets are reportedly open to shopping Jed Lowrie and Dominic Smith. They would be excellent depth pieces for the bench, but the former had a 5.0 fWAR season as recently as 2018 and the latter slashed .282/.355/.525 with a .368 wOBA and a 133 wRC+. It may not be fair to prevent them from starting elsewhere if they get the chance.
However, it is fair to wonder: what if the Mets keep Smith? What if they don’t find a trading partner willing to pay the price for an up-and-coming batter with power, patience, the ability to play an adequate first base and five years of team control left?
The Mets have reportedly considered the idea of attaching Lowrie, an expensive veteran, to Smith, a young piece with team control. That shows how valuable he is. MLB teams prioritize rookie contracts and arbitration-eligible players nowadays. Smith fits the bill.
A passable glove in his natural position
The problem with keeping Smith is that he doesn’t have a clear avenue for playing time with the Mets. He is, by trade, a first baseman, and not a bad one with the leather.
In 118 innings at first, he had a 0.9 UZR and 6.7 UZR/150, with 1 DRS. The problem is that first base is Pete Alonso’s position and, well, it is well covered.
The Mets started playing him in the outfield to increase his versatility in 2018. He played 223 innings out there, but the results weren’t encouraging. He had a -3.6 UZR, -22.6 UZR/150 and -3 DRS as an outfielder.
If the Mets do keep him, his role will be that of a very good pinch-hitter that can occasionally spell Alonso at first and play the outfield only as a last resort option. After all, the team has plenty of outfielders this time around.
However, the New York Mets know the value of quality depth. What if an injury strikes and Alonso gets hurt? Smith would be there to save the day. He is no Alonso, but he can offer a quality bat with passable defense there.
It is understandable that the Mets want to maximize their resources while avoiding blocking Smith’s career. But keeping him this season may be the best idea if the right offer doesn’t come along.