The 2024 season is a crucial one for both Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. The pair of dueling New York Mets third basemen will embark on a season where failure could spell the end of their time with the team, or at least in consideration for anything more than a part-time role.
Baty has gotten a much closer look as a starting third baseman. It wasn't until late last season when Vientos finally began to receive consistent starts. Most came as a DH with sprinkles of Buck Showalter asking him to grab a glove.
Which of the two has more to lose this coming year? Whose season truly is make or break?
Why it's make or break for Brett Baty
Ample opportunities at third base last year and even more in 2024 could be enough for the Mets to declare a verdict on what to do next. Even if his time with the Mets doesn't conclude, Baty can play his way out of the third base spot. The value of defense is apparent with David Stearns. A butcher at third base goes against this.
For Baty, the slow to adjust bat at the MLB level has been most disappointing. Bad defense was expected. Offering as little as he did on offense has been inexcusable.
Another 300+ plate appearances with the same results could be enough to write him off as a starting third baseman ever again. The bare minimum Baty needs to show is an ability to hit well against right-handed pitchers. The .223/.295/.351 slash line versus them in his career isn’t nearly enough for consideration in a platoon.
Why it's make or break for Mark Vientos
Vientos does have a smaller sample size. With this in mind, he may already have the longer leash. At the very least he seems the more mysterious of the two. Having accepted he's probably not a major league third baseman, Vientos can still grind his way into becoming a regular somewhere else. But where?
Vientos' bat is the loudest voice he can speak from in the coming year. If he's at least able to put up competent numbers at the plate, he's going to find starts in some capacity. If it’s not as the DH, he could always turn out to be someone in line to replace Pete Alonso if the worst case scenario with him applies and the Mets go hunting for a replacement.
Will the Mets build a roster that will allow Vientos enough regular playing time? Uncommitted to him thus far in the past, it would be a big turn for the club to suddenly show more faith.
Coveted minor league options can come into play here with Vientos possessing just one more year of them. If sent down at any point, the Mets lose this flexibility in 2025. Baty has two more years of this. He can fall and get back on the horse once more.
Carving out a permanent spot as the team’s DH, the likeliest positive ending for Vientos, may still not be the preferred ending for Stearns. Exactly how he feels about a single player in this spot is a bit unknown considering the 2022 campaign was the lone season where he had to build a roster with one. Andrew McCutchen played 82 games for the 2022 Milwaukee Brewers as the DH with Christian Yelich in second with less than half the total. We can’t make any assumptions. Regardless, the 2024 season looks like Vientos’ last chance.