ATLANTA – The Mets might not be able to wait until the August 2 trade deadline to add offensive help.
This could pave the way for them to look inward in the interim in order to stabilize a struggling lineup, before the trade market fully materializes in the coming weeks.
With all the hype surrounding top prospect Francisco Alvarez, he is a 20-year-old catcher that would have to learn a big-league pitching staff more than halfway through the season during a division race, or strictly serve as a DH, if he were to receive a call-up to the majors.
Alvarez was just promoted to Triple A Syracuse and the Mets want to see him put together a stretch of success at this level, before he is deemed ready for the bigs.
Beyond Alvarez, the Mets have another minor leaguer that’s tearing it up in Syracuse, who could be a more realistic internal option to join the big-league lineup in the near future.
Following a slow first month at Triple A, corner infielder/left fielder Mark Vientos (No. 5 ranked prospect in Mets farm system) has been raking in 2022.
Vientos, who will join Alvarez in the All-Star Futures Game next week, is batting .287 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs since May 1. On the season, he is slashing .255/.340/.494 with a .834 OPS, 15 homers and 41 RBIs in 64 games.
The Mets have struggled to create runs in recent weeks, and have lacked offensive production from the DH, third base and catcher spots in their lineup all season. So while they’re looking to trade for a bat ahead of the August 2 deadline, Vientos is a potential internal addition that could displace Dominic Smith, J.D. Davis or even Eduardo Escobar.
While one individual that’s familiar with the Mets’ thinking believes calling up Vientos to DH is likely being considering by the front office, there is some evidence that points towards the likelihood of the 22-year-old remaining in Syracuse for the time being to continue his development.
First, he crushes left-handed pitching (.316 average), but is only hitting .224 off righties this season. Should those splits translate to the majors, the Mets would be adding a rookie to their current righty/lefty DH platoon of Smith and Davis, as opposed to inserting an every day option. But he could essentially replace Davis, while providing a boost against lefties, which is an area the Mets’ offense has struggled in.
There’s also the defensive factor.
Vientos projects as a DH and corner infielder (first base and third base), the latter is where he has gotten the most exposure in Triple A.
One talent evaluator believes Vientos can be a spark for the Mets as a complementary piece in their lineup, but also acknowledged that his defensive skills still require further polishing with Syracuse.
Scroll to Continue
In the same breath, his offensive production is tempting. The Mets don’t have to look further than the opposing dugout in their current series at Truist Park to see a recent example of a prospect, Braves centerfielder Michael Harris, who has provided a major spark to a contending team.
Although there’s no guarantee that Vientos can make a similar immediate impact like Harris has with the Braves, the more he hits in Triple A, while providing power which is something the Mets have lacked beyond Pete Alonso, the youngster will continue to make a strong case to earn a call-up to the majors.
“He has better opposite field power than most left-handed pull hitters,” Mets backup catcher Patrick Mazeika, who has spent quite a bit of time with Vientos in Triple A, told Inside the Mets on Wednesday prior to the Mets-Braves series finale at Truist Park.
An internal option doesn’t seem to be out of the question in the final 74 games of the season. In the same token, it’s not something the Mets are going to rely on.
As team president Sandy Alderson told Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman on The New York Post’s Baseball Podcast: The Show:
We have three options: 1. We can go with what we have. We have been waiting all season for one or two of those players to ignite and that hasn’t happened. As a second option we can pursue somebody internally, which could be an Alvarez, maybe a (Double A third baseman Brett) Baty, maybe a Vientos. But that’s not something we want to rely on either. That’s not a fail safe option. The third is to acquire somebody outside. It’s fairly obvious who the DH candidates are. There are a handful of them and are pretty easy to identify. In evaluating what it will cost to acquire those players, part of it is analyzing the market.”
Depending on which direction the Mets go at the deadline, regarding whether they land a hitter that can DH and bring positional versatility, this could determine if Vientos becomes a fit on the big-league roster as the season progresses.
While Vientos needs more work defensively, his bat could help complement a Mets lineup that’s vulnerable against lefties and in need of pop. For now, it sounds like a Vientos promotion to the majors is one of several possible avenues being discussed amongst Mets decision makers, with crunch time approaching.
Calling up Vientos won’t prevent the Mets from trading for a bat, and might just be the current move they need to make to give an immediate jolt to their offense with just under three weeks until the trade deadline.
– Max Scherzer Proving to be ‘Difference Maker’ for Mets
– Jacob deGrom to Make 3rd Rehab Start for Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday
– Mets’ Pete Alonso Will Go for 3-Peat in Home Run Derby
Follow Pat Ragazzo on Twitter (@ragazzoreport), be sure to bookmark Inside The Mets and check back daily for news, analysis and more.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism