Inbox: How will Davis fit if Céspedes is ready?

February 24th, 2020

Two weeks into Spring Training, things have gone relatively smoothly for the Mets. Of course, plenty of questions still surround the team. For the first time this spring, let’s dig into the Inbox:

Where will J.D. Davis play if Yoenis Céspedes is ready for Opening Day?
-- @RichardShafran via Twitter

Left field, of course.

As much as Céspedes says he hopes to be ready, he doesn’t plan on getting into Grapefruit League games until mid-March. That will make hitting his Opening Day goal a difficult task.

Even if Céspedes is ready to go, the idea of him playing left field every day, coming off multiple heel surgeries and a broken right ankle, is unrealistic. More likely, a healthy Céspedes would start some games in left, come off the bench in others and sit out some completely. Davis’ playing time wouldn’t just disappear. The Mets know as well as you do how valuable Davis is, coming off a year in which he hit 22 home runs with an .895 OPS. They’re not just going to confine him to the bench.

What can we really expect from Jed Lowrie in 2020? Sure, if he is 100 percent, he can contribute, but there seems to be an “invisibility cloak” surrounding his injury and progress.
-- @mariamb18 via Twitter

I wish I had a better answer to this question than, “Your guess is as good as mine,” but until we actually see Lowrie play in games, it’s difficult to project anything. It’s not as if the Mets are hiding Lowrie. He’s been out and about every day, taking live batting practice and doing infield defensive work. Lowrie hasn’t been limited in camp in the ways that Céspedes has.

But Lowrie isn’t ready for games, and manager Luis Rojas hasn’t given any indication that that’s close to changing. The brace on Lowrie’s left leg is gigantic. Given all that, it seems wise to expect little from Lowrie and consider it a bonus if he produces.

Where is Dominic Smith’s fit on the 2020 Mets? It’s very hard to see him getting the time needed to showcase his skills and help the club.
-- @jerrycolfer via Twitter

Just because Smith won’t be starting doesn’t mean he lacks opportunity. Heading into the season, he profiles as the Mets’ primary left-handed hitter off the bench. If he serves in no other role but that, Smith figures to receive a plate appearance nearly every day.

The reality is that playing time will open up for Smith in other places, as well -- late in games at first base, starting in left field every once in a while, and so on and so forth. The Mets have incentive to try to keep Smith fresh, knowing the damage he can do -- a 1.031 OPS as a pinch-hitter last season, for example -- coming off the bench.

Which non-roster invitee has the best chance to break camp with the MLB team?
-- @DDJavis via Twitter

Eduardo Núñez seems like a decent bet. He may need to prove he’s a better backup infield option than Luis Guillorme, who is already on the 40-man roster. But if you assume a five-man bench, and also assume Lowrie will start on the injured list, then there’s probably room for both.

Is Steven Matz in danger of not making the rotation? I thought he was secure as the third/fourth starter, but recent buzz has been that he’s competing with Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello for those final two spots.
-- @Titus_Willis via Twitter

If Matz had a secure rotation spot, the Mets probably would have said so by now. They’ve given no indications to that end, and it’s not entirely clear what promises they made to Wacha or Porcello when negotiating with them. At the start of camp, Rojas specifically noted that both Matz and Wacha have bullpen experience. I’d expect one of those two to end up in the bullpen. Does Matz seem more likely to win a rotation job than Wacha? Yes, given his stronger and healthier recent history. But this is very much a spring competition.

Any chance Tomás Nido is not the backup catcher?
-- @MovieReviewer88 via Twitter

There’s always a chance, and René Rivera -- who came into camp 30-35 pounds lighter -- hopes to make a case for himself. But Nido is already on the roster and is out of Minor League options. Those are two pretty strong tiebreakers in his favor.

Why did Robinson Canó not play the first two days?
-- @kzack1313 via Twitter

The Mets are holding Canó out of the first week of Grapefruit League games to give him more time to strengthen his legs. At 37 years old, Canó is a veteran who knows what he needs to do to be ready for the season. Sitting out a week shouldn’t affect him one bit.

I know the plan before Wacha and Porcello were added was to stretch Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman out as starters. Is this still the plan? Seems to me they’re -- and especially Lugo -- our best options behind the six guys we know are getting starts this year.
-- @Manach_38 via Twitter

That’s not really the plan any longer. Both Lugo and Gsellman are slated for relief work this spring, though the Mets are keeping both flexible enough to serve in multi-inning stints once the season begins. Lugo did that for much of last season; this year, Gsellman intends to join him, with an eye toward giving the Mets four to six outs at a clip.