Looming Mets roster decision is now easier to make with Francisco Alvarez landing on the IL

The loss of one of the big bats should help another.
Apr 13, 2024; New York City, New York, USA;  New York Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez (4) at Citi
Apr 13, 2024; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez (4) at Citi / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been waiting weeks for J.D. Martinez to make his New York Mets debut. Through the first six games of the year, many of us were ready to rush him into big league action. Yeah, the Mets won that sixth game but it took a golf swing from Pete Alonso and a fan named Max Wiener making his television debut to happen.

It seemed fairly obvious what the Mets would do upon Martinez’s arrival. They’d demote DJ Stewart whose services as the left-handed DH would no longer be needed. In the last two weeks, Stewart has hit incredibly well both in the starting lineup and off the bench. He has become far too valuable to quickly reassign to the minor leagues.

Now with the team losing Francisco Alvarez and replacing him with Tomas Nido to pair alongside Omar Narvaez, it’s a lot easier to keep Stewart and dump one of the two redundant infielders on the roster, Zack Short or Joey Wendle.

The Mets have more use for DJ Stewart with Francisco Alvarez down

Stewart will hardly get starts at DH with Martinez around, especially when the veteran slugger gets his sea legs under him. For Stewart, this means seeing his name at the bottom of the lineup card under the word BENCH on a more regular basis. The Mets may always opt to get him a start or two each week in a corner outfield spot just for some extra at-bats, but we shouldn’t expect them to push it too hard. Stewart was only meant to be a part-time player to serve as depth. This isn’t a plan they should sway from.

Stewart can, on a daily basis, be a big bopper off the bench. The dream situation for a guy who can have his way with right-handed pitchers so well, he’d be a scary threat to come into the game late and mess around with a reliever. There are only a small number of players he’d conceivably pinch hit for. Harrison Bader is one candidate. More imperative is to know when to call the catcher back from the on-deck circle in favor of Stewart.

It won’t matter much if it’s Narvaez or Nido. Stewart has proven he is a superior hitter in just about every way.

The choice for the Mets will now become whether they DFA their surprising Opening Day roster addition, Short, or his veteran clone, Wendle. Short is what he is while Wendle has been a major disappointment in his part-time gig. Known as someone who could give the Mets some quality defensive innings, he has been a major bust in this area.

What has helped the Mets work so well early on is their use of multiple players throughout a game. Opportunities for Stewart may be fewer, but they don’t completely disappear upon Martinez’s arrival. There isn’t a good justification to send him down right now. In the absence of one of the team’s best power hitters, the threat of him coming up with a big pinch hit home run wins over the best days Short and Wendle have had this year for the Mets.