Mets News: Pros and cons of Amed Rosario playing at third base
New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario will be receiving practice reps at third base. What are the benefits and drawbacks of this lineup decision?
The New York Mets creep toward 2021 with a position conundrum: After the emergence of Andres Gimenez last year, the team is now faced with two capable players who could handle shortstop on a regular basis. As a result, one of the biggest and most profound questions the Mets had to answer was how to delegate playing time at the position.
Should Amed Rosario start? Should Gimenez? Or should the Mets adopt a platoon system that allows them to strategically play Rosario or Gimenez based on the pitching matchup and who has the hot bat.
Several days ago, the Mets came to a temporary decision. According to the New York Post, the Mets plan on experimenting with Rosario playing at third base. While this decision does not shut the door on the possibility of Rosario starting at shortstop, it is an indicator that the Mets are going to give Andres Gimenez the first chance to secure the starting shortstop position.
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There are several benefits to making this move. First, it provides additional depth at a position of weakness for the Mets. J.D. Davis, after his exemplary 2019 season, regressed in 2020, slashing a .247/.371/.389 batting line over 195 at-bats.
The bigger problem for Davis, though, was his defense at third base, where he amassed a -0.9 dWAR in 2020 and a -2.4 dWAR in 2019. Second, it allows Gimenez, who is one of the most highly regarded prospects in the organization, to receive significant playing time which he deservedly earned last season.
Finally, the move would create more roster flexibility and versatility for the Mets, which would allow manager Luis Rojas to mix and match players based on matchups.
However, there are also multitudinous drawbacks to this move. First, there is no guarantee that Rosario would be able to handle third base defensively. Although shortstop is a different position than third base, Rosario has not been a league-average defender at any point in his career. He has compiled a -1.8 dWAR through his first four seasons, so there is no guarantee that Rosario would be a defensive upgrade over J.D. Davis.
Second, Rosario would have to contend with the fact that Luis Guillorme could also receive some playing time at third base, which means that his avenue to consistent playing time is still restricted.
Third, there is a looming possibility that Rosario’s move to diversify his infield capabilities might be for naught. If the Mets end up trading for Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, then Rosario may not see any playing time at third, making this exercise a fruitless endeavor.
Playing another position besides shortstop is alien to Rosario. Over the first four years in the major leagues, Rosario has not played any other position besides shortstop. This makes the experiment a little risky and, for the reasons I enumerated above, potentially pointless.
Giving Rosario reps at third base isn’t a temerarious move; it is an organization’s job to get the most value out of the players they have. For the 2021 roster, versatility is the word, and Rosario trying out third base provides him another avenue to receive playing time in 2021. Considering Rosario’s disappointing season offensively, compiling a .252/.272/.371 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 147 plate appearances, as well as defensively, he is not going to be handed playing time. He’s going to have to earn it.
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With free agency moving sluggardly along, there are a lot of moving parts to the Mets lineup, and it is clear the team is not yet done shopping. Rosario’s place on the Mets will become clearer as Spring Training approaches, and the team finalizes their major league roster.