Despite the spending frenzy that dominated Major League Baseball between November and December, the New York Mets still have an uncertainty or two within the roster heading toward the 2023 campaign — most noticeably at the designated hitter spot.
The big money spent on the offensive side of things was to retain center fielder Brandon Nimmo. They lost out on Carlos Correa, whom owner Steve Cohen initially said would be the bat to help put the Mets over the top before negotiations fell through stemming from his medical history. So really, the Mets are returning the same bunch that simply ran out of gas down the stretch in 2022 and petered out in the Wild Card Series.
A lack of a true DH certainly didn’t help the Mets sustain a consistent offensive attack in a season in which they exhausted every option. Dominic Smith and JD Davis couldn’t run away with their chance — prompting the latter to be traded to the San Francisco Giants for Darin Ruf shortly after Daniel Vogelbach was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While Vogelbach posted an .830 OPS, he lacked the legitimate power boost that a Mets team predicated on a modern-day version of small ball needed. Ruf was a non-factor, batting .152 with just seven RBI in 28 games.
As it currently stands, it looks like this duo is going to get a second chance unless the Mets can bring in one more bat from the market. But what are all of their in-house options right now?
Mets 2023 DH options
Daniel Vogelbach: Vogelbach was brought in to feast against right-handed pitchers considering his .822 career OPS against such hurlers. He was forced to face lefties a bit more last year given Ruf’s inability to produce. If another viable option emerges and manager Buck Showalter can deploy the lefty in a more situational manner, his value in Queens should increase.
Darin Ruf: He’s still a Met despite a disappointing half-season in which he collected just 10 hits in 74 plate appearances. Initially brought in to platoon alongside Vogelbach, Ruf owns an .891 OPS against left-handed pitching. One would consider his leash to be short as we inch closer to spring training — and the Mets to have a backup plan if the struggles persist.
Eduardo Escobar: There are obviously some major hypotheticals that come with this option, the first being that Brett Baty makes legitimate strides to suggest that he could get the lion’s share of play at third base. That’s a tall order considering Escobar is the better defender at the hot corner. However, if Escobar can feed off the monstrous September he had to salvage an otherwise disappointing season — and if one of the young Mets can step up — he’s a logical switch-hitting DH option.
Brett Baty: If Baty’s defense at third isn’t something to be relied upon, he could get looks at the DH spot. However, it’s a lot to ask from a youngster who batted just .184 in 38 MLB at-bats before an injury ended his debut season earlier than expected.
Francisco Alvarez: It’s uncertain if Alvarez will even be in the majors to start the 2023 season, but the 21-year-old certainly believes he’ll be with the big club on Opening Day. There’s no questioning just how high his offensive ceiling is with that power bat, but this is supposed to be the catcher of the future and he needs to get as many reps as possible behind the dish. The Mets have Tomas Nido and Omar Narvaez, though, that could create a logjam at the position, so Alvarez could see some DH at-bats to ensure he remains in action.
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