Mets trying Smith out in right field

First baseman could provide valuable OF depth after Lagares injury

May 20th, 2018

NEW YORK -- Shortly after the Mets learned last week that will miss the rest of this season due to a torn toe ligament in his left foot, team officials gathered to discuss their options. Beyond the Mets' top three healthy outfielders, , and , their depth chart consisted of and -- both infielders by trade despite their recent dabblings in the outfield. At Triple-A Las Vegas, the Mets do not boast any high-level outfield prospects.
As manager Mickey Callaway put it: "We don't have many outfielders."
So the Mets did something about it, using first baseman in right field at Triple-A Las Vegas Saturday for the first time in his professional career. Smith, who has spent most of this season in the Minors, collected an outfield assist, and will continue playing there one to two times per week.
"When Lagares got hurt, we had to start thinking outside the box," Callaway said. "There aren't outfielders just running around that are really good to be able to come and add depth in our organization. So this is one way to help that."
The move also gives the Mets options should fourth-ranked prospect Peter Alonso continue to take the Minor Leagues by storm. Also a first baseman, Alonso is hitting .355 with 11 home runs in 40 games at Double-A Binghamton. His 1.145 OPS leads the Eastern League. But Smith, a former top prospect himself, is currently blocking Alonso's climb up the organizational ladder.
That could change if Smith proves adept in right field. The Mets have been aggressive in recent years about exposing players to other positions at a young age, though Smith, 22, had previously been immune to that. Callaway alluded to the fact that Smith, who has struggled with his weight since the Mets drafted him 11th overall in 2013, has lost 35 pounds since the end of last season.
"The way he's been moving around, the way he's been working, he's a really good athlete," Callaway said. "He does a great job of really catching the ball at first base. So we were all just talking about it the other day, with the injuries he's had, it makes some sense for him to go out in right field and get some reps so he can be an option at times."