Buck Showalter has a lot to think about when constructing the New York Mets roster for the 2022 season. Obviously, there are some locks when it comes to the everyday lineup and the pitching staff. We all know those names and can assume that on opening day, barring any injury, most of the roster is set.
Showalter may rest a little easy knowing that the rosters will be expanded from 26 to 28 players, until at least May 1st. MLB and the MLBPA agreed to this because of the shortened Spring Training. Where the decision-making gets a little tricky for Showalter is when you start to think about the bench and the bullpen. Depending on how many pitchers and hitters the team will carry will determine the final roster spots.
There is one Mets roster spot that I think will be taken by a non-roster invitee.
That invitee is outfielder Travis Jankowski. Now I know what you're thinking: Why should the Mets break camp with him? Well, hear me out!
Although the Mets addressed the outfield in a big way by signing Starling Marte and Mark Canha, one of my biggest concerns going into Spring Training was the depth. Yes, they did add these two new outfielders but I don’t know if it was enough.
Marte replaces Michael Conforto, who for some reason is still not signed. Probably because of Scott Boras but that's a story for another day. Marte who was pegged to play centerfield will now hold down right field, most likely because of the sore oblique that he is dealing with.
Canha will play in left while Brandon Nimmo will get another shot at centerfield. This is all great but who is going to be that late-inning replacement when defense is needed to preserve a victory? Who is going to replace them if there is an injury?
All very important questions so I looked at who on the possible opening day roster could fit this mold on the bench. Dom Smith who has played left field has improved but I wouldn’t consider him in the outfield in late innings. The same goes for J.D. Davis, who has exclusively been playing at 3rd. Jeff McNeil will probably be starting at 2nd but has some outfield experience.
Outfielders Nick Plummer and Khalil Lee, who I thought would be in the race for the job, were sent down pretty quickly at the start of Spring Training.
That is where Travis Jankowski comes in. The Mets signed him to a minor-league deal on March 17th and he has played solid defense in the outfield ever since.
Offensively, Jankowski is a career .239 hitter with 9 home runs and 52 RBIs. He had his best season in 2018 with the San Diego Padres where he hit .259 with 4 homers and 17 RBIs while stealing 24 bases. He struggled to find his footing after that but he did have a respectable season off the bench with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2021.
If he makes the opening day roster, Jankowski will probably fill the role that Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora Jr. did last season. If he can play anywhere close to what these two provided (closer to Pillar actually) then that would help out the Mets desperately.
The Mets are in need of a real outfielder who will come in late in games and play a spectacular defense and I think Travis Jankowski is the man for the job!