The New York Mets don't need to plan on carrying any rookies on their 2024 Opening Day roster. In fact, if we see any rookies at all in the first half, someone is probably hurt or another guy has caught fire on the farm. At some point in 2024, the promotions will come. Guaranteed to receive one is Luisangel Acuna.
Considered by many to be the top Mets prospect, him taking the leap to the majors is a logical prediction based solely on his 40-man roster presence for the second consecutive year. Acuna was already optioned once by the Texas Rangers. And if the Mets make the likely move of optioning him again at the start of 2024, he'll have just one more remaining.
This isn't a big deal if Acuna truly is the guy many believe he can become. However, if he struggles early on, the Mets will get into a similar position they're in at the moment with Ronny Mauricio.
The Mets can't make the same mistake with Luisangel Acuna they made with Ronny Mauricio
Was Mauricio ready for the major leagues last year? Whatever your opinion may be, he needed to be on the MLB roster much sooner than September to find out. The unexpected offseason knee injury pushes back his next big league at-bat. It puts the Mets in a tight spot where demoting him at any point in 2024 burns his final option. His lengthy presence on the IL to begin the year will actually set them up to rehab him for as long as they need before Mauricio finishes the season in the majors—if he’s able to return at all.
The situation with Mauricio is a bit more unique than with Acuna. It's not unusual for a prospect to see an option get wasted in a year where he doesn't even make the major leagues. For it to happen in almost two consecutive years when the player was red hot on Triple-A feels wasteful. The Mets had already waved the white flag in August of 2023. We’re no closer to knowing what Mauricio can do in the major leagues. We won’t get answers for a long time either.
Acuna’s exact role on the Mets is tricky. Does he play second base and the team moves Jeff McNeil to the outfield? If Acuna is going to be a starter for the Mets by 2025, something needs to give. A year as a part-time utility player for him makes sense. Even upon his impending call-up in 2024, we might not see Acuna locked into any one singular role.
One spot where we should see Acuna play even just a little bit before his major league debut is third base. Inexperienced at the hot corner thus far in his professional career, it’s the next position the Mets should try him at even if he is undersized for the position at 5’8.
Regardless of how he’s actually performing, the Mets need to give Acuna a taste of the majors in 2024. Get those rookie jitters out of the way in a year where there might not be nearly as much on the line. Have a plan for him and where he can contribute next season.