If Brett Baty is making the New York Mets Opening Day roster, it probably means Darin Ruf isn’t around any longer. The Mets kept the right-handed first baseman/right fielder/DH all offseason long. After adding Tommy Pham, his presence became a bit more redundant.
The Mets will need a right-handed platoon partner for Daniel Vogelbach. Pham can fill it. So can Eduardo Escobar whose superior numbers against left-handed pitchers makes him a solid candidate as well.
As for Baty, the Mets haven’t committed either way to starting him in Triple-A or carrying him into the regular season. There is no acceptable Francisco Alvarez-like excuse of him needing to work on his defense. Any player Baty replaces on the roster or in the field isn’t a very good defender anyway.
Mets prospect Brett Baty made his first push to make the Opening Day roster
In his first at-bat of the spring on Saturday, Baty went boom!
His left-handed power is something the Mets starting lineup could use this season. Put the threat of going yard behind Pete Alonso in this lineup and suddenly things feel a lot different.
Baty is a much better fit for the Mets than Ruf in a variety of ways. The ability to play third base and left field makes him a greater asset defensively. At the plate, he does remain a bit more mysterious simply because he hasn’t had enough chances at Triple-A or MLB to know how ready he is.
The benefit of carrying Ruf on the Opening Day roster is the Mets can see if maybe last year’s struggles were behind him. There aren’t too many fans who would think this is the situation. The lack of versatility on the bench isn’t worth waiting around to see anyway. If Baty has a monster spring, he needs to be on the Opening Day roster. Give him at-bats as the third baseman and left fielder. Escobar and Mark Canha will get plenty of chances to show their worth.
One reason the Mets may be holding back from unloading Ruf too soon—aside from the obvious lack of takers—could be the status of Starling Marte. If he’s not ready to go on Opening Day, letting Baty and Ruf fight it out in the regular season could be in the cards.
For now, it’s Baty’s job to win away from Ruf. Hitting home runs, something Ruf didn’t deliver any of for the Mets last year, is a fine way to start.