Tim Locastro earned his roster spot, how can he keep it?

Mar 13, 2023; Jupiter, Florida, USA;  New York Mets centerfielder Tim Locastro (83) is congratulated
Mar 13, 2023; Jupiter, Florida, USA; New York Mets centerfielder Tim Locastro (83) is congratulated / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The big New York Mets news of the day came well after many of us finished our first cup of coffee and maybe an hour or so when we guiltily began to indulge in our second caffeine hit of the day. Darin Ruf was designated for assignment. Outfielder Tim Locastro will make the Opening Day roster.

Locastro certainly earned his place. He did calm down in the final days of spring training yet still managed to finish the preseason slashing .289/.396/.511. The speedster signed to a minor league contract this offseason to presumably become a late-season weapon off the bench and in the postseason will get a crack at making his mark in Queens right from the start.

Mets fans were delighted by this rather unaccepted news, especially after the team sent down Brett Baty and Mark Vientos only a few days earlier. As happy as many of us are, Locastro’s next task is to keep his job with the Mets.

Mets outfielder Tim Locastro has plenty to prove in the regular season

A lifetime .227/.325/.331 hitter in 549 career plate appearances, Locastro hasn’t put together the kind of career where we should necessarily expect him to stay on the Mets roster for the whole season. The Mets will need to get exactly what they signed up for from players like Daniel Vogelbach and Tommy Pham in order to have the excuse to carry a lighter hitter like Locastro all year.

Locastro can outperform expectations and manage to find his place with the Mets for longer than a short burst. Right now he has the role Travis Jankowski did early on last season. With any luck, he’ll be more valuable and effective on the field.

Because Locastro doesn’t have any minor league options left, the Mets have very little wiggle room to promote any of their top position player prospects for offense. Luis Guillorme is the only non-starter the team will carry on the Opening Day roster with minor league options. He has a role on this club and demoting him creates a different kind of chaos. Keeping this in mind, Locastro’s presence on the Mets roster is something he’ll have to continually fight to keep.

We shouldn’t expect an abundance of big hits from Locastro. He’ll serve the Mets best as a pinch runner and regular defensive replacement late in games. Experienced at all three outfield positions, there are a variety of ways Buck Showalter can add him onto the lineup card. Using him as often as possible in the roles that make the most sense should be on the mind of the Mets’ skipper.

Setting the bar low, anything close to his lifetime .227/.325/.331 slash line is acceptable enough as long as he runs lots and plays defense well. His explosive bat in spring training is not something we should prepare to see.

The downside to carrying Locastro on the roster now is that the Mets are at risk of losing him well before October arrives should they decide to make a change. Locastro has the potential to pass through waivers, however, plenty of teams could always use a bench player like him. He’s the kind of veteran who could play a game of musical chairs this season. We’ll enjoy him for however long he lasts in Queens.

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