The New York Mets are facing a critical year in 2024. After the 2023 campaign crashed and burned, it's critical to show that the team is moving in the right direction. There will be many new faces in Flushing, and with the demotion of Brett Baty to AAA this week, third base will be a hot topic heading into the offseason. Will the Mets supplement the position in free agency, or look from within the organization for the answer?
It's important to keep in mind that for as fat as Mets owner Steve Cohen's wallet is, there is a limit to his willingness to spend, especially after last offseason's spending spree resulted in such a disappointing season. Any money spent on third base could potentially limit the Mets' ability to splurge on the team's most essential area of need, starting pitching.
Let's also not forget that even though Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and Edwin Diaz are locked up long term, Pete Alonso is going to command a huge contract when he hits the market next year. Extending Alonso this offseason would lock up the entire Mets core, preventing a lame duck season in which rumors, and therefore distractions, would swirl around the team all year. Pete's pending payday also has to be factored into any potential third base signing.
Let's get into the possibilities, which we'll rank from worst to best.
5) Ronny Mauricio emerges as the Mets third baseman
There's a lot to be excited about when it comes to Mauricio. He has power and speed, and he has a slash line of .287/.336/.483 at AAA Syracuse this year. Following Baty's demotion, it was reported that Mauricio would begin taking reps at third base, a position he hasn't played before. Does this concern anyone else?
Third base is one of the most demanding defensive positions on the diamond. There's a reason it's called the hot corner. Mauricio has bounced from shortstop, to second base, to left field, and now to third. That doesn't inspire confidence.
Also of importance is that although Mauricio has been hyped up as the next great Mets prospect, Brett Baty spent his minor league career ranked more highly within the Mets system. Giving Baty a year before giving up on him for a guy that has never been thought of as highly seems rash.
Mets fans have been clamoring for Mauricio to get called up all year. At this point, if he's anything short of a combination of David Wright and Jose Reyes, it will be a disappointment. Handing him the starting job, at a position he isn't familiar with, on a team that is trying to rinse the bad taste of 2023 out of its mouth, in a city that puts more pressure on its players than any other, is a recipe for disaster.
We'd love to see Mauricio on the Opening Day roster next year, but let's ease him into things before throwing him into the fire.