New York Mets: What is the plan for Dominic Smith in 2020?
Dominic Smith showed a lot of potential at the plate in 2019. Is there any room for him on the New York Mets in 2020?
After struggling in his first two seasons in the major leagues, Dominic Smith finally found himself in 2019 and became a frequent member of the New York Mets starting lineup in 2019, mainly in left field despite being a first baseman for the majority of his career.
Prior to landing on the IL in late July, Smith was one of the best hitters the Mets had the entire season, and had a very memorable last at bat for the team in his return, hitting a walk-off 3 run home run in the final game of the season against the rival Atlanta Braves.
For the 2019 season, Smith played a grand total off 89 games for the Mets, hitting .282 with a .355 with 11 home runs and 25 RBI, logging career highs in all categories at the major league level.
While it appears that Smith has finally cemented himself as a major league caliber player, going into 2020 with New York, he may find himself as a player without a position.
When Smith was originally called up to the major leagues, it was as the Mets’ top prospect at first base, however, he has been supplanted in that role by rookie Pete Alonso, who looks to be the centerpiece of the Mets lineup going forward.
Smith does have a secondary position to play as well, as he appeared in 32 games in left field and 1 game in right. It’s unlikely he will find room to play there either, as the Mets are expected to have a surplus of players able to play the outfield going into 2020.
Provided all are healthy, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are natural outfielders capable of playing all three outfield positions, and both Jeff McNeil and JD Davis spent significant time starting in the outfield in 2019. Along with the pending return of Yoenis Cespedes, its unlikely that Smith will find room to play there either.
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If he can’t find a starting position to play at in 2020, then the Mets are left with two options for Dominic Smith:
A bench player or trade him to a different team.
The Mets are unlikely to bring back Juan Lagares in 2020, so the Mets look to be in need of a backup outfielder, a role with Smith could potentially fill. New York also lacks a good left-handed hitter off of the bench, which is another need that Smith could fill off of the bench.
Seeing as he is under contract for several more seasons, then Smith would be much cheaper than signing a free agent.
Despite this, Smith is very limited in his defensive abilities as a bench player, as he can only play first base in the infield, and is an average defender at best in the outfield, with not much experience playing there other than left field.
His limited ability as a utility player and the fact that the Mets have better defensive options to play the outfield mean that aside from a left-handed pinch hitter Smith would not have much else to offer in this role aside from a left-handed bat off of the bench.
If this is the case, then the Mets might be much better off trading Smith this off-season to a team in need of a first baseman to address another one of the team’s needs, either for relief pitching or minor league prospects.
Several teams are going into this off-season looking for a starting first baseman, and after his performance in 2019, his stock is arguably higher than it ever has been. A few teams expected to be in the market for a first baseman are the Detroit Tigers, the Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City Royals, and the division rival Miami Marlins.
If the Mets can’t find a place for Smith to get regular playing time and relegate him to a glorified pinch hitter, then trading him might be their best course of action.
They would be able to get a few prospects or even address one of their needs at the major league level, and Smith would get a chance to play every day and prove that he belongs, which is likely more than he would get if he stays in New York.
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What do you think Dom Smith’s role should be with the Mets in 2020?