As the Mets continue to make upgrades to their roster, the roles of some of last season’s contributors are put into question.
With the additions of Starling Marte and Mark Canha, New York’s outfield appears to be set, with Brandon Nimmo completing the alignment. That calls Dominic Smith’s role into question, especially with Pete Alonso at first base. With Eduardo Escobar brought in on a two-year deal, J.D. Davis’ role is now up in the air, considering Escobar primarily played third base last season and earned his 2021 All-Star selection at the position.
There is also the looming return of Robinson Cano from his season-long suspension, which could create a competition at second base is the National League doesn’t implement a DH in 2022. That would put Jeff McNeil’s role in jeopardy.
But despite all of these questions, general manager Billy Eppler told Carton and Roberts on Wednesday that he expects all three of Smith, McNeil and Davis to be with the team come Opening Day.
“I’m expecting those guys to be with us,” Eppler said. “If there’s clubs that come knocking, we listen, we engage on things. But I’m expecting those guys to be on the roster.”
Asked about McNeil specifically, Eppler said he would be the starting second baseman on Opening Day as of now, even after a drastic downtick in production in 2021, where he posted a .679 OPS across 120 games, far below the .836 OPS he held in 2020, or the .916 mark he finished with in 2019, his lone All-Star season.
“If we started today, he’s our second baseman,” Eppler said.
As for Smith, who also fell off significantly after a promising 2020 campaign, Eppler said there would be a role for the former first-round pick, though it seems like it wouldn’t be a regular one.
“Plays outfield, gives Pete Alonso a breather at first, if there’s a DH, who knows?” Eppler said.
The future is cloudy for Davis, McNeil and Smith now that the Mets have made some moves, but as of now, expect to see them lining up along the baseline with the rest of the team when rosters are introduced on Opening Day.
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1