There’s no longer a clear path for Dominic Smith to receive regular playing time with the New York Mets. It’s time to trade him.
In 2017, Smith raked in Triple-A. His slash line was .330/.386/.519 in Las Vegas before being called up in August not long after fellow prospect Amed Rosario. Hopes were still high for the 22-year-old first baseman.
Unfortunately, like Rosario, Smith disappointed on offense. He slashed a measly .198/.262/.395 in 49 games with the Mets.
In addition, he registered -7 defensive runs saved during that time. Pretty awful for just 44 starts at first base, especially since he wasn’t making up for it on offense.
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Smith and Rosario were supposed to represent a new era in Flushing. The Mets were a losing team in 2017 and the presence of these two talented youngsters was meant to spark a winning culture going into the 2018 season.
Of course, that was not the case.
Rosario had it easy. He was already a natural athlete on perhaps the least athletic team in the National League. He was also guaranteed playing time given the opening at shortstop and how highly regarded he was by both the team and scouts. Basically, he was allowed to fail.
Meanwhile, Smith was trying to reinvent himself. Over the offseason, Smith lost 30 pounds in an attempt to become more of an athletic presence on the diamond.
His hard work and newfound mobility impressed team officials and fans alike. The first base job was Adrian Gonzalez’s to lose in 2018.
But, in classic Met fashion, Smith blew it.
He was late to a team meeting before a spring training game in February and was subsequently benched. No big deal though, right? He’ll get other chances.
Well, not really. Not long after that incident, Smith strained his right quad and ultimately never challenged Gonzalez for the first base job at all.
Smith was called up to the Mets in mid-May but was sent back down just three days later. He was routinely called up to the majors and sent back down to Triple-A all season, never impressing anyone at either level.
He received some courtesy playing time in September but was forced to take 10 of his total 33 starts in left field during 2018.
Altogether, he hit 5 home runs in 56 games (albeit just the 33 starts) and slashed a poor .224/.255/.420 in what had become a lost season for the now 23-year-old first baseman/left fielder.
Heading into the 2019 season, Smith is a forgotten man. With breakout performer, Peter Alonso, now the obvious choice to become the Mets regular first baseman and an outfield full of more talented players, Smith has little chance of making an impact on the 2019 Mets.
As bad as it has been for Smith and the Mets, this is actually a classic story. Some guys shuffle up and down for a couple of years on a team that doesn’t need them before ultimately being traded and reaching their full potential elsewhere.
This is important because other teams recognize this trend and may, therefore, see value in trading for Smith.
Most likely, Smith will be used as part of a package deal this offseason to secure an MLB ready player who can contribute to the Mets’ playoff run in 2019.
Just because the Mets have given up on him, doesn’t mean the rest of the MLB should too. There are definitely teams willing to take a chance on him given his minor league success and first-round pedigree.
Keeping Smith around as a backup first baseman for the entire 2019 season isn’t practical. He simply has no place on the Mets.
Maybe they could let him keep first base warm until Alonso is called up in order to show him off to other teams. But, even in this case scenario, he should be gone by the trade deadline.
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Brodie Van Wagenen and his win-now mentality would be wise to flip Smith as soon as possible in order to maximize his value to other teams and make the 2019 Mets better.