In spring training, one of the few roster battles we covered was the one between Jose Martinez and Albert Almora for a spot on the bench. Adding Kevin Pillar seemed to make Almora a little more expendable. However, an injury to Martinez made the decision for the New York Mets much easier. They went with the healthy glove over the injured bat.
Martinez will eventually come back. When he does, there’s a very good shot we see him replace Almora on the bench.
Jose Martinez will not save the Mets offense
This has very little to do with the early season offensive woes the Mets have faced. A bench player isn’t going to take over a team. Martinez probably won’t even steal too many starts away from the everyday players.
Instead of looking at it like this, I look at this future roster decision from the perspective of how little they are using Almora.
When an outfielder has needed a day off, Pillar has been the man for the job. Almora is getting pinch-hitting opportunities and a chance to play the field as a late-inning defensive replacement. Other than this, he’s going unused.
Almora still does have minor league options as does Martinez. So, the Mets can always experiment and see which player fits their roster best.
Needless to say, there’s always an injury lurking. By the time Martinez is back and ready to make his Mets debut, there’s no telling who else may have landed on the IL.
What could Jose Martinez’s role with the Mets be beyond a pinch-hitter?
As a first baseman/corner outfielder, there’s not much Martinez can do other than come off the bench and maybe pop a home run or drive a single. Sitting Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, or Pete Alonso for any length of time feels silly. They are three of the bats the Mets need to play as much this year if they want a chance to compete.
Martinez could conceivably start in one of the corner outfield positions on a day when a tough lefty is on the mound. His career numbers versus southpaws include a .307/.382/.534 slash line in 348 plate appearances. He has hit them well and could give the Mets a nice boost whenever they do come across a left-handed starting pitcher.
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The Mets IL began the year with some notable players on it but also some quieter role-players I looked forward to seeing. Along with Martinez, relief pitcher Drew Smith was a candidate to put together a nice year. He, too, could have spent all March fighting for a roster spot. Instead, an injury sidelined him and we’ll have to wait and see how much the Mets like him over some of the other guys.