How Mets minor league signing Ji-Man Choi makes the roster

What's Ji-Man Choi's path to playing for the Mets?

Feb 27, 2024; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA;  New York Mets first baseman Ji-Man Choi (26) hits a
Feb 27, 2024; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets first baseman Ji-Man Choi (26) hits a / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
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Signed to the new trendy split contract by the New York Mets, Ji-Man Choi joins the ball club on what is likely to be a year spent largely in the minor leagues. The left-handed hitting first baseman turns 33 in May and doesn’t appear to have a true clear path to the major leagues.

How does Choi find major league at-bats with the Mets?

Ji-Man Choi is limited insurance at the DH spot for the Mets

Choi is coming off of a rough season spent with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres. His prime seasons all spent with the Tampa Bay Rays included some limited power with his most impressive attribute being the .352 OBP. 

Choi was much less himself in 2023 while posting a .163/.239/.385 slash line. He finished the year going 2 for 31 as a member of the Padres hence the lack of interest this offseason.

As far as the Opening Day roster goes, Choi is only an option if he outplays DJ Stewart. Even then, with Choi earning more money on his contract and in constant DFA limbo plus being more limited to only first base than the corner outfield where he hasn’t played since 2018, it’s a longshot.

At-bats for Choi seem most feasible as a replacement for Stewart, the club’s lone left-handed bat off the bench with any sort of pop. The alternative could be if the club lost Pete Alonso for any significant amount of time. First base isn’t just a position you plug anyone into. Choi has been only a slightly below-average defender in his career. Instead of putting someone without much experience there such as Mark Vientos, the Mets could always turn to him. Of course, he'll need to be outplaying Luke Voit whose offensive accomplishments in the majors are bigger but haven't been noticeable for a longer period of time.

It wouldn’t be impossible for the Mets to DFA Choi at some point after being added to the 40-man roster and for him to pass through waivers. The split contract part of his deal wouldn’t be as appealing to others, as minimal as it is. Pitcher Austin Adams went unclaimed. There's a decent-sized chance Choi would, too.

We shouldn’t pencil Choi in for all that many appearances. Stewart’s success against righties and more positional versatility should give him the edge heading into the start of the season. A repeat of September could have the Mets experimenting with the more MLB-experienced Choi.

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