Minor league outfield depth has not been a strength for the New York Mets in recent seasons. Last year, the lack of options sitting in Triple-A bit them hard when in a short period of time they lost Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo to injuries.
This brought us the short yet strangely beloved tenure of Billy McKinney but also the rough debut for Khalil Lee and unforgettably bad end of Cameron Maybin’s big league career.
Hopeful not to repeat history, the Mets added some depth this offseason. The growth of a few other youngsters should ensure they don’t run into that same problem again.
A look at the Mets outfield depth beyond the big leagues
We know Mark Canha, Starling Marte, and Brandon Nimmo will play in the outfield regularly this season. Other big league options, I would imagine, include at least one of the threesome from the trade group of J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith. I can’t see all three getting traded before Opening Day.
If we list one of those big leaguers as outfield depth, the Mets would likely then fill other spot with either the Khalil Lee redemption tour or the debut of Nick Plummer. Similar players capable of playing all three outfield positions, those two will have one of the more intriguing battles whenever Spring Training does begin.
Beyond these names, the Mets have built in some recruits. Top prospects Brett Baty and Mark Vientos could conceivably be looked at as left field options should an injury occur. Unless they prove to be absolutely dreadful at the position, it wouldn’t be stunning to see this is the path either takes in order to make his big league debut.
The Mets do have more natural outfielders on the farm. With big league experience, there’s Daniel Palka. Carlos Cortes is one of the better prospects the club has and a guy that can play a variety of positions. The team also has Jake Mangum, a fourth round draft pick from 2019, and Carlos Rincon as options.
There is a lot of “maybe” and “what if” with all of these guys. Any of the minor league guys without big league experience could find some magic and become a member of this year’s bench mob. They can just as easily struggle each time at the plate and get sent back to the minors quickly.
Injuries are going to happen and at least one of these men will be called to arms before he’s ready. It’s up to the Mets to prepare him for the gig. It’s the responsibility of whomever they chose to at least look passable when the time comes.