1) Outfielder Mallex Smith
Mallex Smith was signed by the Mets this past November to a Minor League deal after being outrighted off of the Seattle Mariners 40-man roster in September. It wasn’t necessarily a shocking move as Smith largely struggled with the Mariners in 2020 after an ugly slash line of .133/.170/.178 with an OPS of .348 in 47 plate appearances. What was more shocking was the quick fall that Smith had after an exciting 2018 breakout campaign.
In 2018, Smith had a .296/.367/.406 slash line to go along with 40 stolen bases and ten triples with the Tampa Bay Rays which led the American League. Smith also had a 3.5 WAR which was the second-highest by a position player on the roster.
While Smith took a step back offensively in 2019 after being traded to the Mariners, he still led the entire league with 46 stolen bases and had further solidified that he was a proven threat on the basepaths. Smith also had begun establishing himself as one of the best defensive center fielders in 2019, as he ranked 11th among center fielders in outs above average with six according to Statcast after finishing 37th in 2018. For further reference, Outs Above Average (OAA) is a range-based metric of skill that shows how many outs a player has saved.
While it has been a significant drop-off in play last year for Smith, it’s important to remember he is only 27 years old and could benefit from a change of scenery, especially after a shortened season where he never was able to regain his footing. Defensively Smith has the ability to play all three outfield positions as a defensive replacement and he could be serviceable off the bench as a pinch-runner.
Smith will be in competition with Albert Almora and Jose Martinez to gain one of the remaining spots on the Mets bench this spring. Should Smith’s bat reemerge to his days back with the Rays, he would resemble a realistic option for the Mets group of outfielders on April 1st.