With the addition of Marlon Byrd on a minor league contract, the Mets have fourteen non-roster invitees scheduled to participate in spring training. Those players will be competing for spots on the team's 25-man roster for Opening Day, but the Mets figure to have a bit of a 40-man roster crunch, too, as 39 spots are currently occupied.
The math is pretty simple. The Mets will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster if more than one non-roster invitee makes the team out of spring training. If they sign a free agent — perhaps a relief pitcher — to a major league deal, the sole available slot on the 40-man roster eliminated before the non-roster invitees potentially make the team. If any player on the roster begins the year on the disabled list, his spot will become available until he's ready to return, delaying the team's decision about who would need to be cut.
If and when the Mets remove a player from the roster, the player would hit waivers and could be claimed by any other Major League Baseball team. Let's first have a look at the current 40-man roster, breaking it down between the players who appear to be locks to stay on the 40-man roster and those who might be at risk of losing their spots.
These 33 players aren't going anywhere, injuries notwithstanding. The group is a mix of established major league players who the Mets aren't going to risk losing and prospects who were recently added to the 40-man, none of whom would be removed anytime soon.
The Mets added Burke, a right-handed relief pitcher, shortly after the end of the World Series, but he'll be competing with a slew of other players for a spot in the bullpen. If he doesn't make the team, he could be placed on waivers to make room for another pitcher. Hefner's a fairly well known commodity to the team, but he's not a lock to make the team out of the gate, and as a result, he's in the same boat as Burke.
Havens and Lutz are older prospects hanging on to their status as potential future big league players. Rob Castellano ranked Lutz thirty-first and Havens fortieth in his Amazin' Avenue Top 50 Prospects. The other players are probably more likely to be cut first, but the Mets showed last year that they weren't just going to hold on to a once-prospect forever when they sent Fernando Martinez through waivers and lost him to the Astros.
And finally, let's have a look at the complete list of non-roster invitees, all of whom will have a shot at the Opening Day roster, at least for the first week or two of spring training.
|15||Matthew den Dekker||OF||L-L|
The relief pitchers here are particularly likely to make the team. It's hard to imagine Atchison won't make the team, and Hawkins has been decent over the past few years. Laffey might beat out Jeremy Hefner for the long-relief-spot-starter role in the bullpen. Carlos Torres was an interesting acquisition back at the end of November who might make the pen.
Perpetual Pedro Feliciano needs to prove he's capable of pitching, which may not happen, but if he does, he'd crack the 40-man, too. Mazzoni and Montero are prospects who will most likely not make the team on Opening Day.
The position players are a bit of a mixed bag, but there's clearly plenty of competition here. Either one of the catchers might beat out Anthony Recker for the gig backing up John Buck. Once the Mets call up Travis d'Arnaud, presumably sometime shortly after April, that spot will disappear.
The infielders and outfielders here all have varying shots at making the team, but den Dekker would probably need to show a lot with the bat this spring for the Mets to slot him into center field on Opening Day.
As always, we'll be posting a weekly Make-The-Mets-O-Meter once spring training begins to track the progress of everyone in big league camp.
*As pointed out by intrepid commenter NateW, Omar Quintanilla was missing from the original list. The Mets don't list him as a non-roster invitee on their website, but he was reportedly invited to big league spring training at the time he was signed.