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Around the Horn: Infield well-stocked for 2019

Jan. 28th, 2019

NEW YORK -- With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., in two weeks, it's time to continue our position-by-position look at the 2019 Mets. Next up: infield.The starters: Robinson Canó, Amed Rosario, Jed Lowrie, Todd Frazier General manager Brodie Van Wagenen's first, and splashiest, offseason

NEW YORK -- With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., in two weeks, it's time to continue our position-by-position look at the 2019 Mets. Next up: infield.
The starters: Robinson Canó, Amed Rosario, Jed Lowrie, Todd Frazier
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen's first, and splashiest, offseason move was his trade for Cano and closer Edwin Díaz. Cano immediately becomes the Mets' everyday second baseman and the double play partner of Rosario, who is entering his second full season as the starting shortstop.
Around the Horn:Bullpen | Rotation

After that, it becomes tricky. The Mets have promised Lowrie everyday reps, but they can't play him at his natural position of second base. Most likely, Lowrie will become the de facto starter at third, pushing Frazier -- who's coming off a down year -- to first. On days when Cano rests, Lowrie can start at second base, allowing Frazier to move back to his natural spot at third. If Rosario needs a day off, Lowrie can start at short.

Got all that? It's assuming, of course, all four of those players perform well enough to earn continued time. They'll be pushed by others on the roster.
The competition: Jeff McNeil, Peter Alonso, Dominic Smith, J.D. Davis
This is where things really get complicated. Based on his .329 average and .852 OPS as a rookie last season, McNeil deserves a starting job in the infield. But the Mets boxed him out with the signing of Lowrie, and they now appear committed to trying him in the outfield -- perhaps even as their starting right fielder. Still, McNeil will almost certainly receive infield reps at some point.
One of the most ubiquitous spring storylines will be Alonso, who also deserves a crack at the starting first base job. Van Wagenen has been consistent in saying he'll take the best 25 players north with him, but the Mets can guarantee an extra year of team control if they wait until mid-April to call up Alonso. In the end, it seems likely they'll go that route.

Smith probably won't get much of a crack at the starting first base job, with too many others vying for that role. It's possible he earns a bench gig in Spring Training, though he'll have to prove himself after batting just .224 with a .675 OPS in 56 games last season.
New to the scene is Davis, who can play first, third and both corner outfield spots. The Mets are enamored with Davis' right-handed power, but they figure to be stacked with right-handed hitters on their bench. Davis will have to show he's worthy of one of those spots.

In the team photo: Luis Guillorme, T.J. Rivera, Dilson Herrera
Of this group, Guillorme probably has the strongest chance to crack the Mets' Opening Day roster as the best defensive infielder in camp. But the Mets have indicated that Lowrie will be their primary shortstop backup for now, marginalizing Guillorme.

Rivera hasn't played since undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2017. Now healthy, Rivera will almost certainly start out at Triple-A Syracuse.
The Mets reacquired Herrera this winter after trading him for Jay Bruce in 2016, but he hasn't developed as a prospect the way they once hoped. Now 24, Herrera profiles as Triple-A depth.
Prospects to watch: Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos
There's plenty of intrigue surrounding Gimenez, MLB Pipeline's 58th-ranked prospect who made it to Double-A Binghamton last summer at age 19. Gimenez probably won't debut this year, but he could be knocking on the door by Spring Training 2020 -- provided the Mets, who are committed to Rosario for years to come at shortstop, don't trade him.

Mauricio and Vientos won't impact the big leagues until at least 2021, but they're two of the highest-upside prospects in the organization. They're both probably one good season away from cracking MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list.
The bottom line
The Mets are undoubtedly well-stocked in the infield -- so well-stocked, in fact, that manager Mickey Callaway is going to struggle to find playing time for everyone. It's a situation that is sure to evolve over the course of the season.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets , Jeff McNeil, Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, Peter Alonso, Dilson Herrera, Amed Rosario, J.D. Davis, Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, Todd Frazier, Luis Guillorme, Ronny Mauricio, T.J. Rivera, Dominic Smith