NY Mets Friday Farming: Here’s who the Mets called up in September
By Brad LaPlante
It’s finally September. The New York Mets have been through one rough week, from the Javier Báez thumbs down fiasco to playing dangerously awful to acting GM Zack Scott being arrested with a DWI.
But, finally, it’s September, and call-ups are upon us.
Long gone are the days of 40-man September rosters to make way for weird and random MLB debuts. Still, the Mets’ roster capacity just grew from 26 to 28, meaning we’ve made way for new players.
By far, the Mets’ biggest need is hitting and it’s important they address that, but let’s take a look at who they ended up calling for a 28-man September.
This one is a little odd, for the Mets to call-up Yennsy Díaz over Khalil Lee.
Initially, the Mets did bring up Lee, but then demoted him before the team even played a game, with them being off on September 1st due to Hurricane Ida.
It would’ve made a lot of sense for the Mets to call up Khalil Lee, given his play in Syracuse since being optioned down, batting .258 with 8 HR and 22 RBI. His impressive style of play made the acquisition from Kansas City seem wonderful.
Meanwhile, Yennsy Díaz has some MLB experience. He was signed as an international free agent in 2014 in Toronto, made his way up through the minors there before appearing in his first MLB game for the Blue Jays in 2019, where he pitched .2 innings and surrendered one hit and two runs.
Díaz performed well in a few games for the Mets, though a couple of bad outings have sent his ERA up past 4. In 21 innings, he’s surrendered 10 runs.
The reason this is odd is two-fold: for one, if the Mets wanted to focus on pitching, there’s some other names I would’ve focused on instead of Díaz. Additionally, the option to go with Díaz over Lee makes little sense.
Khalil Lee is a developing prospect who has performed exceptionally well in the minors. Meanwhile, Díaz is 0-3 this year for Syracuse with an 8.16 ERA, an RA/9 over 10, and a WHIP over 1.60. The sudden pivot to Díaz is frustrating.
This call-up makes a lot of sense for the Mets.
He wasn’t on our board of potential call-ups last month, but Almora fills a lot of holes. Last season, he was the Chicago Cubs’ outfielder and had made impacts for them in the team’s 2016 and 2017 seasons. He’s only four years removed from a season where he had a .298 batting average in 132 games.
The Cubs optioned and eventually non-tendered Almora when they received Cameron Maybin from the Detroit Tigers, leading him to New York.
Most of Almora’s season this year was spent with Syracuse, but he’s seen some playing time, most notably when he crashed into the outfield wall, effectively placing him on the IL. He’s hitting .128 this season with an OPS+ of -2.
Initially, Almora was brought up along with Lee, but as we mentioned, Lee was sent back down abruptly. As of writing, it’s still unknown if this was an issue related to injury, Covid-19, or otherwise, but it’s still very odd that the Mets didn’t opt to help the team by getting Khalil Lee up here.
How do we grade these call-ups?
As mentioned, it’s frustrating to wonder what the line of thinking was to bring up Khalil Lee only to send him down. On every stat sheet, Lee outperformed Yennsy Díaz and deserved the promotion more. He was our #1 guy to call up this September.
For Almora, it was him or maybe two other infielders.
The alternatives to Almora – meaning players on the 40-man roster and in the minors, but not injured – are either Brandon Drury or Travis Blankenhorn Drury performed exceptionally in his summer stretch, he was arguably the hottest any Mets hitter has been this season (unless you count Pete Alonso only against left-handed pitching). So he was an option.
Neither Drury or Almora provide anything more than additional depth, which is what these pieces are – glorified depth pieces in the last stretch of the season. I would’ve liked to see Akeem Bostick make his Mets return this season, but it’s unclear as to when/if that will be. Even in that respect, it’s still important to choose these pieces carefully.
Bostick was designated for assignment after the Báez trade. A day later, he was outrighted to Syracuse, meaning he’s been taken off the 40-man, cleared waivers, and sent down to Triple-A. Bummer.
Will Díaz or Almora have impacts this September? Maybe. Neither will be eligible to play with the team if the Mets make the playoffs, but it’s not like the Mets have an exciting farm system with MLB-ready guys set to go now, like the Tigers or the Rays.
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Regardless, it’s even more exciting when you consider that the Mets will have more in the pipeline in the next two years ahead, from players like Matt Alan, Francisco Alvarez, or Brett Baty.