The Mets new plans for Brett Baty should be another warning for Jeff McNeil

Jeff McNeil is hitting just .227 this season, and changes may be closer to reality.
Jeff McNeil has not been in the lineup against a lefty for over a week.
Jeff McNeil has not been in the lineup against a lefty for over a week. / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Brett Baty's future plans with the New York Mets may have changed with potentially a new position. He could be a new option for the Mets at second base as the team is trying to solve their third base diemma that they have faced all season.

When the Mets optioned Baty to the minors last week, they told him he would get more reps at second base, though it hasn't happened yet, according to Tim Healey of Newsday. As Baty rejoins the Mets today as the designated 27th man for this weekend's games in London against the Phillies, it opens more questions surrounding the future of Jeff McNeil.

Brett Baty learning second base may be the beginning of the end of Jeff McNeil's tenure with the Mets.

The Mets had an intriguing competition in spring training for their third base job. It ultimately went to Baty, as Mark Vientos was sent to the minors to start the season. But Baty had a bad slump in May, and ultimately lost the third base job to Vientos who tore up his Triple-A counterparts.

Vientos may have snagged the third base job in the majors for the rest of the season with his strong hitting in limited action and an improved glove. He has a 1.013 OPS and has five homers in 74 plate appearances with the Mets this season.

Baty would need to play elsewhere in the infield if he wants to play. Baty can't be the shortstop because of Francisco Lindor, and he can't play first base because of Pete Alonso. If Alonso leaves this offseason, the Mets could move Vientos to first base and have the talented Ronny Mauricio play third base in 2025.

Baty making a potentially career changing move is also yet another warning sign for Jeff McNeil, who has seemingly been reduced to platoon level play recently. McNeil, a lefty, has only started against righties over the past week. Jose Iglesias has started against each southpaw the Mets faced since his callup last week and has seven hits in 18 at-bats since the callup. Brett Baty also happens to be a lefty.

It also helps that Baty gets overdue seasoning in Triple-A to prove he can be versatile. He has only played 34 games at Triple-A in his career. The lack of experience in Triple-A may have factored in Baty’s offensive struggles in the majors and why he experienced prolonged slumps after teams adjusted to him.

Remember that Baty was, at one point, one of the 25 best prospects in baseball two years ago. In 2022, Baty put up exceptional numbers in Double-A for four months, then was promoted to Triple-A, and then promoted again to the majors just a week in for a spark.

If the Mets feel as if Baty can play some second base at the big-league level, it will feel like the end of Jeff McNeil’s days in New York. 2024 could be another year where player evaluation for next season becomes the focus. Jeff McNeil would not be in their long-term plans if that is the case.

Having Baty change positions might be the best possible solution to the third base logjam between him and Mark Vientos, as the Mets seek to be a younger, more athletic team going forward.