NY Mets: Five most valuable minor league deals this offseason
Mets minor league deal #4: Mallex Smith
Like Jose Peraza, Mallex Smith has shown flashes of brilliance at the big league level and remains relatively young. However, his inconsistency at the plate has cost him a chance to be guaranteed a spot on the big league roster.
However, out of all the players I discuss in this article, I believe Smith has the best chance out of all of them to earn playing time on the Mets active roster because of his speed and defensive instincts. The question regarding Smith is whether he can hit well enough to justify a roster spot.
Smith was most successful with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2018, Smith had a breakout season, slashing a .296/.367/.406 batting line in 544 plate appearances over 141 games. He also was second in the American League with 40 stolen bases, tied for first in triples (10), and recorded a 3.5 WAR, which was the second-highest position player WAR on the Rays that year.
However, the Rays must have considered Smith’s breakout year a fluke run for they shipped him off to the Seattle Mariners after the season. This trade, while considered fair at the time, ended up being incredibly lopsided in favor of the Rays. With the Mariners, Smith regressed horribly, with his bat getting worse each year with the team. In 2019, Smith compiled a .227/.300/.335 batting line, along with the highest soft% of all major league batters (25%). Despite his struggles offensively, Smith managed to contribute to the Mariners with his speed, and he netted 46 stolen bases in 2019.
However, 2020 resulted in new career worsts for Smith, and his speed couldn’t make up for the deficiencies in his offense. Once he was outrighted off the Mariners roster, he had put together a measly .133/.170/.178 batting line. The Mets are hoping he can return to his 2018 form offensively. In the event that the Mets fail to land George Springer, Smith could find himself on the big league roster as a defensive replacement at the very least. If the Mets do sign Springer, Smith could still convince the Mets to bring him up as a fifth outfielder and backup center fielder, leaving Brandon Nimmo to backup the corner outfield spots, which he is better suited for.