2) NY Mets to still believe in: Brett Baty
Brett Baty’s road towards becoming the Mets’ long-term solution at third base hit a wall in 2023. The 23-year-old struggled in all phases of the game, posting a mere .598 OPS at the plate and minus-5 defensive runs saved at the hot corner.
Despite a rough first full season that included spending most of August at Triple-A Syracuse, Baty has shown flashes of what made him a top-100 prospect. His hard-hit rate was in the 69th percentile for the season, and he hit safely in nine of his final twelve games with five RBI, all against teams fighting for postseason berths.
Whether Baty can get past his struggles might simply be a case of having patience in a young player acclimating to major league pitching. It is likely the Mets will give the former first round draft pick a strong chance at winning the third base job out of spring training in 2024.
How much rope he gets, however, will depend on how quickly other young in-house options like Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio develop. Neither is known as a strong defender, but each has experience at third base and showed a bit more progress offensively in part-time roles with the Mets last season.
David Stearns, the Mets’ new president of baseball operations, indicated the organization will look to thread the needle between fielding a competitive team in 2024 and not sacrificing competitiveness in future years. How they manage the case of Brett Baty will be a prime example of whether they can truly strike that balance.