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Latest On Mets’ Roster Decisions

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Most of the Mets’ roster has come into focus with Opening Day approaching, and the team continued to make its final roster cuts this weekend.  MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo has the summary of the decisions, including the news that utilityman Zack Short and (somewhat provisionally) first baseman/outfielder D.J. Stewart will break camp with the team.  Stewart’s status is a little up in the air since he is the proverbial 26th man on the 26-man roster, and the Mets might yet replace him if a player they like becomes available on the waiver wire or in free agency, as rival teams also make their late cuts.

Short was claimed off waivers from the Tigers last November, and has been much more known for his defensive versatility than his bat (.174/.266/.308 in 450 career plate appearances) over his three MLB seasons in Detroit.  However, Short has looked really good at the plate this spring, while Stewart has struggled.  Ironically, Stewart has almost the opposite profile, as he has been productive if inconsistent in hitting .220/.339/.425 with 37 homers in 807 career PA, but isn’t known as much of a defender.  Stewart joined the Mets on a minor league deal last winter and hit a very solid .244/.333/.506 over 185 PA in his first season in Queens.

Short and Stewart got the nod ahead of a pair of minor league signings in Ji-Man Choi and Jose Iglesias.  The two veterans have opt-outs in their minors contracts but Choi told DiComo that he will report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate rather than re-enter free agency.  Iglesias also indicted that he will likely remain with the organization to await another possible opportunity later in the season.

One player who is somewhat unexpectedly heading to Triple-A is Mark Vientos, who was initially slated to be a part-time third baseman and DH heading into camp.  However, New York then signed J.D. Martinez this past week, and while Martinez will begin his season in the minors to make up for his lost spring prep time, Martinez’s presence will monopolize the designated hitter role.  As a result, Brett Baty and Short now could work as a third base platoon, since the Mets want Vientos to get steadier playing time in the minors.

Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns also noted that the team wants to see Vientos get more work in at third base.  Vientos’ defensive future has long been a question mark, as he is considered a subpar third baseman and playing at DH or first base with the Mets isn’t an option for at least 2024 due to the presence of Martinez and Pete Alonso.  Becoming even a passable third baseman could greatly help Vientos stick in the majors and keep him from being pigeonholed as a first base/DH type at most.  Vientos has hit just .205/.255/.354 with 10 home runs in 274 career PA in the big leagues, but the former second-round pick doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors after three seasons of crushing Triple-A pitching.

Assuming Stewart is indeed the last position player on the roster, the only remaining 26-man decisions facing the Mets are their last two bullpen spots.  DiComo writes that Michael Tonkin is “a heavy favorite for one” spot, and Yohan Ramirez and Sean Reid-Foley are competing for the other job.  All three pitchers are out of minor league options, DiComo notes that rival scouts have been watching Ramirez and Reid-Foley in anticipation of either pitcher potentially being available on the waiver wire.  The loser of the competition might end up traded rather than designated for assignment, if enough interest exists from teams in need of bullpen depth.

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