2024 Mets outlook: Joey Wendle expectations and predictions

Can Joey Wendle be a surprise boost off the Mets bench in 2024?
New York Mets v Miami Marlins
New York Mets v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Veteran infielder Joey Wendle is the lone newcomer to the New York Mets infield for 2024, and he looks to bounce back in a new setting after a rough 2023 season with the Miami Marlins.

Wendle was traded three times before hitting free agency and signing with the Mets in November. He has spent his playing career splitting time between second base, third base, and shortstop, and has consistently been a plus defender, though he only played shortstop last season in Miami.

Wendle is, in essence, the team's Luis Guillorme replacement. He won't hit many home runs, he'll hit for contact, and he can play most of the infield well.

New York Mets infielder Joey Wendle will provide some solid defensive help, and most of his starts will be at third base.

Offensively, Wendle had a great first half and poor second half last season with the Marlins. He hit .270 in the first half, and went along with the Marlins' tremendous hot streak in June leading into the All-Star break. After the break, though, Wendle hit just .142 and had a (perhaps unlucky) 0-for-30 slump along the way.

Yet, throughout the whole season, Wendle didn’t strike out as much and he didn’t make much hard contact. He will bat in the bottom third of the Mets lineup whenever he starts. His offensive ceiling is limited, but he is not here to primarily hit. He’s here thanks to his glove.

Defensively, it felt like he was a victim of the Marlins’ flawed roster construction from last season. He couldn’t play at second base because they acquired eventual batting champion Luis Arraez, and he couldn’t play third base because Jean Segura’s bat needed to be in the lineup (and they traded for Jake Burger), so all 754.1 innings he played in the field were at shortstop, his least natural of the three positions, and was okay there.

With the Mets this year, his primary assignments will be at third base as he is playing next to Francisco Lindor and he will be a defense-first type of player. That was an emphasis of David Stearns’ offseason plan, recognizing the Mets’ putrid defensive metrics of the past decade, and Wendle fits what Stearns is trying to accomplish.

The Mets will likely use a combination of Wendle and their two youngsters in Mark Vientos and Brett Baty at third base this season as the Mets try to develop the latter two into solid contributors fo the team in the future. So it feels like Wendle will probably get around 200 at-bats or so, depending on injury situations and get many pinch-hitting assignments.

2024 stat predictions: .230 AVG, 2 HR, 25 RBI, .575 OPS