With the news that the Opening Day rosters are expanding to 28 players, the New York Mets have the opportunity to add two players to the roster who otherwise might not have made the team out of Spring Training.
The thinking behind this change is to preserve the health of the players. With the shorter Spring Training, the pitchers especially will likely not be fully stretched out on Opening Day. Teams will likely carry two extra pitchers as a result of this, just to provide innings.
The one caveat with this roster expansion is once May 1st rolls around, the rosters go back down to 26 players. So the players who do get the chance to make the team out of Spring Training will have to prove they are worthy of staying put, or else they will be sent down to Syracuse. Here're five players I believe could benefit from the two extra roster spots.
1. Mets outfielder Travis Jankowski
With the two extra spots, I'm close to positive that the Mets will use at least one of those spots on a pitcher, if not both. Jankowski is the only position player I believe has a legitimate shot at making the club, something that would not have been the case if rosters were at 26 players.
As of now, most of the Mets lineup is set. I believe the only spot that has a question mark around it is the DH spot. Robinson Cano I assume will get the reps to start out, but Dom Smith has been swinging a hot bat so far this spring, I wouldn't be surprised if he got the bulk of the at bats either. J.D. Davis is another candidate for the DH spot and if he doesn't get it, will be on the bench.
Tomas Nido and Luis Guillorme are guaranteed roster players as well. So with a bench of Smith, Davis, Nido, and Guillorme, the Mets have their four bench players. Offensively, it might be the best bench in the game with a ton of upside if Smith and Davis become the hitters they have been in the past.
However, defensively is another question. The Mets bench lacks an outfielder that can play anywhere other than left field. That is a problem. Right now, the Mets project to play Mark Canha in left, Brandon Nimmo in center, and Starling Marte in right. Marte has dealt with an injury this spring, and both Nimmo and Canha are injury prone. If Marte can't play center field due to his oblique injury out of camp, the Mets don't have a backup there.
Jankowski is not a good hitter. He's never hit more than four home runs in a season and has a .239 career batting average. He is however, an excellent defender and has speed. He's made two great catches already this spring and has stolen 30 bases in a season before. He's a prototypical fourth outfielder that the Mets lack. If they decide to give a roster spot to a position player, Jankowski will likely be that guy.