As far as DH options for the New York Mets go, there’s Shohei Ohtani and then there is everyone else. Any buzz around the Mets bringing Ohtani to Queens seems to have dissipated somewhat. Optimistic fans may still be holding out hope that his ginormous salary expectation could make the market small enough where he does end up with the Mets purely out of a lack of choices. We know the Mets will spend if the opportunity presents itself.
After Ohtani, the drop off for the DH options is great and yet not so abysmal. There are natural DHs like J.D. Martinez available. And there are infielders like Justin Turner and Rhys Hoskins.
The best option for the Mets, after Ohtani of course, is to seek out one capable of playing a corner outfield position.
The Mets are wasting a roster spot if they add a primary DH at a position they’ve already filled
Many first basemen are naturally expected to transition into a DH role. A good number of them are only at first base because they aren’t good enough to play any other position. This is almost as equally true for many of MLB’s corner outfielders. Let’s not forget that Martinez and his predecessor Nelson Cruz were poor corner outfielders in their earlier days before the designated hitter label became permanent.
The thought of only targeting DHs who can play a corner outfield spot quickly eliminates many of the options. The trio of Martinez, Turner, and Hoskins mentioned before are off the table. What’s left?
Andrew McCutchen and Jorge Soler are capable of playing some left field but best-suited as a DH. We can’t eliminate them from the equation just yet. A bit more available to play defense, we find players such as Joc Pederson, Teoscar Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe. All three have their weaknesses. The positive is none are hamstrung into only carrying a bat to Citi Field. They can field, as necessary, too.
There is a lot of frustration built up after a year and a half of Daniel Vogelbach being on the Mets roster. He’s the extreme one-dimensional DH because he doesn’t even hit against lefties. The preferred choice for the Mets DH situation last year—once again, way after Ohtani—is for there to not really be any one designated player for the role. This is why a corner outfielder seems to fit in best.
The Mets will be in search of some sort of a left field solution even if it ultimately includes moving Starling Marte there. Starting second baseman Jeff McNeil and still unproven but fascinating left-handed slugger DJ Stewart are next on the depth chart to play the position. Neither seems to be foolproof. David Stearns needs to take advantage of the market while he can.
Carrying a second first baseman on the roster has little value. Another third baseman for regular DH at-bats doesn’t make much sense either considering how many choices the team already has. Over in the outfield, where the Mets already need more depth, is where the DH search should begin and end. Even if the guy never ends up playing an inning in the field for whatever reason, the security of knowing he can is important.