The New York Mets roster has a problem. Only 9 of their 28 players have minor league options. It’s not unusual for a team to have far more players out of options. However, it’s the ones who don’t that could make it difficult for the Mets to navigate.
The nine players who could be sent to the minor leagues without having to be designated for assignment or clear waivers include position players Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Luis Guillorme, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith plus pitchers David Peterson, Tylor Megill, Seth Lugo, and Drew Smith.
Smith is that unfortunate member of the Mets roster who could become a numbers casualty. Already with the knowledge that they will have to reduce the roster down to 26 by May 1, his remaining minor league options could cost him a roster spot regardless of how well he is pitching.
The Mets roster could look a lot different by May 1
There are some alternative paths the Mets could take. Joely Rodriguez has not started off well and he could be an early season DFA candidate. Considering they did just trade for him, it would be a quick admission of defeat.
Sean Reid-Foley, another lesser reliever without minor league options left is yet another one of the DFA candidates. He is out of minor league options which means if the Mets want to send him down instead of Smith, they’d have to put him on waivers and risk another team picking him up. He also happens to be a trade acquisition. But with a full year gone by since they picked him up, it’s not an admission of anything.
Between now and May 1 when the Mets have to make their decisions, the team will surely suffer another injury or two. That seems to be the way this season is headed. Even so, it won’t solve the issue long-term. The Mets have a bullpen of mostly veterans. Well-planned from an experience standpoint, it doesn’t set them up well to simply shuttle multiple pitchers back and forth from the minor leagues.
This problem originates from the organization’s lack of building up new relievers. Lugo is the only one who came up through the system. While Smith spent some time on the farm developing, he was still a trade acquisition by the club back in 2017.
It may seem like a minor issue for the Mets. And considering everything that could go wrong for the team throughout the season, having to say goodbye to some lesser relief pitchers is hardly worth getting frustrated over.
Still, it puts the ball club in a tough spot when they do convince themselves that a struggling reliever needs a little more time.
Smith, with his minor league options, offers the Mets flexibility they can’t really get elsewhere. Unfortunately for him, this probably means some time in Syracuse when the team needs a fresh arm.