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New York Mets should not depend on T.J. Rivera in 2019

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 10: T.J. Rivera #54 of the New York Mets hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 10, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 10: T.J. Rivera #54 of the New York Mets hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 10, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
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Relying on T.J. Rivera to stay healthy and produce in 2019 would be a mistake by the New York Mets.

When I’ve asked who the New York Mets can employ as an alternative at third base to Todd Frazier, many have pointed at T.J. Rivera. If you became a Mets fan in 2018 (and why would you?) this name means nothing to you.

Those who have been with the Mets for a little longer know Rivera from his productive performances in 2016 and 2017. Through 344 trips to the plate, the 30-year-old utility man batted .304/.335/.445 with 8 home runs and 43 RBI.

The above outlines Rivera’s entire big league career. As I said, he’s now 30-years-old, too. Not many realize this. In their minds, because it took literally forever before he made his big league debut, Rivera can play a role on the Mets in 2019 and beyond.

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I’m not convinced. Rivera missed all of 2018 due to recovery from Tommy John Surgery. He did play in six minor league games, accumulating a .182 batting average over those 22 opportunities.

Rivera has proven he deserves a chance to play in Major League Baseball. As the 25th man on the roster, he’s a decent competitor. However, as currently constructed, the Mets need more. They need a major league player who has proven he can play well for an extended period of time versus the best pitchers in the world.

At each level he has played, Rivera hit well. The timing of his 2017 injury couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Just when it looked like he was earning his way onto the roster for years to come, the injury bug bit him and injected some ruthless venom into his system.

There are opportunities for Rivera to make his way onto the Opening Day roster next year. The departure of Jose Reyes is one easy way for him to land on the 25-man roster after Spring Training. Yet another way to sneak on is the fact that Wilmer Flores was non-tendered.

Rivera is a more-than-suitable replacement for Flores. Together on the same roster, I didn’t really see a good fit. It’s almost as crazy as signing Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce in the same offseason when your team needs a different kind of player.

Even though Rivera has the potential to become a suitable replacement for Flores, I want this team to explore other options. A more experienced player with a lengthy resume is the better bench option.

Examining the relievers the Mets acquired via trade. Next

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It would be great to see Rivera succeed in the big leagues. Unfortunately, counting on him would be a mistake. Let’s see him exceed expectations and not meet them.

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