Mets’ veteran infielder pushing for a roster spot

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at New York Mets
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets prioritized adding depth to the organization this past offseason, and right before Spring Training began, they added some more by signing Ji-Man Choi to a split contract.

The 32-year-old took a step back during an injury-riddled 2023 campaign, splitting time between the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres. In 39 games, Choi slashed .163/.239/.385 with six home runs and 13 RBIs.

Choi is now healthy, and he appears to be pushing to be on the Mets’ roster when they open the 2024 season on March 28.

Choi’s impressive spring

Choi opened Grapefruit League play scorching hot before cooling off over the past few games. He still has a solid slash line of .222/.364/.407 while bashing one home run and four RBIs and has a .771 OPS.

In addition, the 32-year-old has demonstrated excellent plate discipline, constantly fouling off pitches and walking six times.

Defensively, Choi has been as advertised, making numerous difficult plays look routine and being a vacuum at first, handling all throws with ease.

Why could Choi make the roster?

The Mets’ final bench spot is essentially down to Choi and DJ Stewart.

Other non-roster invitees, such as Luke Voit and Ben Gamel, have struggled mightily, ruling them out of contention. Players with solid springs, like Jose Iglesias and Zack Short, just don’t fit positionally on the team.

Choi has played his way into the final two and has a pair of advantages over Stewart.

First, the 32-year-old has a late-March opt-out in his contract, while Stewart still has a minor-league option. So, if the Mets want to keep both, Choi has to get the roster spot.

The second has to do with the position they play on the diamond.

Stewart is an outfielder at the Mets, and four primary outfielders are set to make the roster alongside Jeff McNeil, who has plenty of experience playing in the outfield as well.

Choi fills a need for a backup primary first-baseman, which allows new manager Carlos Mendoza to be more flexible with Pete Alonso.

Time will tell if Choi makes the roster out of camp, but the 32-year-old is certainly making the most of his opportunity so far, repping the blue and orange.

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