With the return of David Wright coming tonight against the Phillies, the Mets will have to find a way to gradually insert the third baseman into the lineup on a regular basis. After a fury of moves in the past month, the team is looking as deep as it has in years. This presents a challenge, though, as Terry Collins will be tasked with finding the right combinations to keep the team in first place in the National League East.
To make room for Wright on the 25-man roster, reliever Dario Alvarez was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. Before Sunday it looked like Logan Verrett would be sacrificed for Wright's return, but after his sparkling start against the Rockies the Mets decided they'd be better off with Verrett than Alvarez in the bullpen. This leaves the Mets with five bench players on any given night: Wilmer Flores, Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, and Anthony Recker.
The Mets will also have to make room for Wright on the 40-man roster, as he had been on the 60-day disabled list. The easy solution here seems to putting left-handed relief pitcher Jack Leathersich, who had Tommy John surgery recently, to the 60-day disabled list. If not, there are a handful of fringe players who the Mets could designate for assignment.
The addition of Wright to the lineup may not be an immediate upgrade. He hasn't played in a major league game since April 14, when he sustained a hamstring strain in a game against the Phillies. He got off to a good start, though, with a .796 OPS in 35 plate appearances before the injury. Since embarking on a rehab assignment on August 10, he's batting .321/.424/.321 with five walks and six strikeouts in 33 plate appearances with High-A St. Lucie. Rehab game statistics are hardly meaningful, but the most encouraging aspect is that he's experienced no setbacks.
In all eight games in which Wright has played this season, he's batted second in the order. The new acquisitions the team has made in his absence may push him further down in the lineup. Curtis Granderson is a fixture in the leadoff spot, and Daniel Murphy typically bats behind him. With the recent injury to Lucas Duda, the three or four spots may be opened up for Wright.
Since Uribe was acquired, he has started 16 games at third base. He is hitting .187/.256/.440 with five home runs—good power but not much else. Wright's return to regular playing time will likely bump Uribe to the bench. Terry Collins said Wright will not be an everyday player immediately upon activation, so Uribe has some time to make the manager's decision more difficult.
David Wright finally gets to join in on the fun that is the 2015 Mets. If he can perform as well as his career résumé, his bat will be a major addition to an already potent lineup. It may be a while before he reaches full strength, but it's been far too long since the face of the franchise has suited up in a big league game.