Mets: Finding a role for Dominic Smith on the 2019 roster

ATLANTA, GA. - JUNE 13: Dominic Smith #22 of the New York Mets follows through during a fifth inning at-bat against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Field on June 13, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA. - JUNE 13: Dominic Smith #22 of the New York Mets follows through during a fifth inning at-bat against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Field on June 13, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Once the future first baseman of the New York Mets, Dominic Smith will have a tough time finding at-bats in 2019.

Dominic Smith was first called up to join the New York Mets in late 2017 after putting up big numbers for Triple-A Las Vegas, along with top shortstop prospect Amed Rosario, who were touted as the future of the team.

Over 114 games with the 51’s, Smith batted an impressive .330 with a .386 OBP, along with 16 home runs and 76 RBI. This strong showing prompted the Mets to call him up late on in the year, but under the impression that he was major league ready and would take over at the first base for New York going forward.

In his first stint in the big league was not as successful. While he slugged 9 home runs in 49 games, showing a better power output than initially expected, he only batted .198 and was clearly not ready to face major league pitching.

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Going into Spring Training in 2018, Smith was expected to compete for the starting job at first with the newly acquired Adrian Gonzalez. He failed to capitalize on this opportunity, however, as he missed most a Spring Training due to a quadriceps injury and even when healthy, he was still outperformed by Gonzalez, who eventually won the starting job.

Smith began the 2018 season in Triple-A once again, where he underperformed compared to the previous year. However, due to several injuries and an underperforming lineup, the Mets released Gonzalez and promoted Smith to the majors once again, handing him the starting job.

After returning to New York, from June 12 – July 15, Smith appeared in 26 games for the Mets where he only hit .183 with only 1 home run, which accounted for his only RBI, after which he was sent back to AAA and was replaced by Wilmer Flores at the position. He was then sent back down to Triple-A.

Smith appeared sporadically in the big leagues throughout the rest of the year and all in all, finished the season batting .224 with 5 home runs with 11 RBI, appearing at both first base and a few games in left field.

After two lackluster years in the major leagues and the emergence of first baseman Peter Alonso as the Mets’ new top prospect, the question now remains:

What will be Smith’s role with the Mets in 2019?

Firstly, despite that many fans have already moved on from him, I highly doubt that the Mets would release him any time soon.

Despite his poor performance thus far, last season he was ranked as the team’s second-best prospect, will still be pre-arbitration for the next three seasons and still has a minor league option left next season, meaning that the Mets are still able to pay him the league minimum for the next few years and  can still send him to Triple-A next season.

In other words, unless Smith is involved in a trade next year, he isn’t going anywhere.

Smith will most likely go into Spring Training competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster, either as a lefty bench player capable of playing both first base and left field and maybe even platoon at first base.

With Peter Alonso slated to begin at least the first month of the season in Triple-A so that the Mets can retain an extra year of control, as of now, Todd Frazier is likely to start the season at first.

While Smith had a low batting average last season, Frazier’s was even lower, with a whopping .213 in 115 games with New York in 2018, although he did slug 18 home runs and his .303 OBP was higher than Smith’s.

If Smith outplays Frazier in Spring Training, there is a solid chance that the two of them platoon at first to begin the year, with Smith facing the right-handed pitchers and Frazier taking on the southpaws. However, this would only be a place holder until Peter Alonso is called up.

Once that happens, depending on how Smith performed, he will either be sent back down to the minors or remain with the team as a bench player, pinch-hitting late in games along with the occasional spot start.

Ideally, I hope that Smith turns a corner in 2019 and finally contributes in the major leagues. While the Mets currently don’t have much room for him in their lineup, he is still only 23 years old and has a lot of potential. After all, he was their number 2 ranked prospect last year for a reason.

Next. Where does the Mets rotation rank in 2019?

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This could be his last real chance to be a contributor with the Mets next season. Hopefully, he seizes it.