It's not such a bad thing if the Mets demote Shintaro Fujinami to start the season

The intelligence of the free agent signing itself was to have this flexibility.

New York Mets Workout
New York Mets Workout / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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The Shintaro Fujinami hype is one of the stranger happenings at New York Mets spring training. This isn’t a case of an international free agent coming over with high expectations. Fujinami spent last season in MLB putting up some pedestrian numbers with two different ball clubs. His high velocity stuff has been embraced by the front office and fans to make him one of the more anticipated relief pitcher additions of the offseason.

Comparing him to the other relievers brought in isn’t exactly a clash of titans. Jorge Lopez and Michael Tonkin are bargain additions the club will look to get the most out of. Only Jake Diekman and Adam Ottavino, of those newly acquired, seem to be poised for a high-leverage situation from start to finish. Even they have some questions—much less so than Fujinami.

Fujinami had a wild outing on Friday showcasing his floor. The ineffectiveness could lead to a preseason demotion and it makes a lot of sense to do exactly this.

Who should the Mets have on the roster instead of Shintaro Fujinami?

Heading into spring training, there were three pitchers on the 40-man roster fighting for one spot. Fujinami’s appearance in Grapefruit League action and the success of two others should have the Mets reconsidering where he fits into their Opening Day plans.

The Mets might not have to decide between Yohan Ramirez or Sean Reid-Foley after all. They could select Phil Bickford as well. Because he is making a little more than league minimum and is much less intriguing than Ramirez or SRF, Bickford may now be a guy who’d pass through waivers and remain with the Mets organization. Although, with the team taking him to arbitration, testing the free agent waters is a part of the equation as well.

For the same exact argument in favor of putting Ji-Man Choi on the Opening Day roster instead of DJ Stewart, there’s one to choose Ramirez or Reid-Foley above Fujinami. A savvy decision to add an optional reliever in free agency this offseason, the situation isn’t an exact mirror but there are similarities.

A minor league option with Stewart can turn him into depth. By not selecting Choi for the MLB roster, the Mets lose a bat with some promise they could always ride for a month or two until reality sets in. If you’re a believer in Murphy’s Law, you will agree the moment the Mets go against selecting Choi for the Opening Day roster is the exact time when they actually do need him.

The Mets roster is imperfect and selecting someone different for the last spot on the bench and bullpen won’t make or break how well they do this year. Consider this more as a conservative no-risk approach. Choi and any reliever they pick over Fujinami would be a DFA candidate from the start of the year.

The demotion for Fujinami will allow him some extended time to work on things. He could be a project for more than one year. We’ll see him in the big leagues for sure this season—maybe just not right away.

Neither Ramirez nor Reid-Foley have allowed a run this spring, further fueling the idea of a Fujinami demotion.

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