With the Mets’ recent signing of third baseman Todd Frazier, the team’s infield looks to be finalized for the upcoming season. Frazier is the second free agent infielder the Mets have acquired this offseason. following Adrian Gonzalez. So with everything set, for the most part, it’s a good time to look towards the infield that the team will field on Opening Day next month.
At the catcher’s spot, the position with the least amount of change this offseason, familiar faces Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki will share the duties. Their offense isn’t eye-popping, but it also isn’t too bad, with a 91 wRC+ for d’Arnaud and a 106 wRC+ for Plawecki in limited playing time last year. The biggest concern with the duo is their defense which has been a point of discussion for the past few seasons. Both of them were below the league average caught stealing percentage of 27% with d’Arnaud and Plawecki throwing out 17% and 19% of runners, respectively, though there’s much more to catcher defense than those rates.
First base was the question mark coming into the offseason, but when the Mets brought in Adrian Gonzalez, it was clear he would be the starter at the beginning of the 2018 season, while Dominic Smith would be relegated to waiting in the wings. Both Gonzalez and Smith were dreadful in their abbreviated 2017 seasons, with each posting -1.2 bWAR that nearly ranked dead last in the National League. For Gonzalez, there are almost no positives to be found due to his bad offense, defense, and health last season. Smith, on the other hand, does have a bigger upside just for the fact that he’s over ten years younger than Gonzalez. His hitting wasn’t much better than Gonzalez, though, with his 73 wRC+ narrowly edging out the veteran’s 69 wRC+. The way things are lined up now, Gonzalez will be the Mets’ starting first baseman until he loses the job due to injury or bad performance, and Smith will take over from that point on.
At second base, Asdrubal Cabrera will be the Mets’ starter going into 2018 after two years at shortstop. Cabrera, who was reluctant last year to switch positions, is much more open to taking on a new role now that the Mets have picked up his option. The position shouldn’t be too foreign to Cabrera who has played 242 games there over the course of his 11 years in the majors. In his younger days, Cabrera wasn’t too bad at second, but in his last 700 innings at the position, he has accumulated -16 DRS. But, the Mets have made apparent that they are more interested in offense rather than defense, and on that front Cabrera is fairly good. In 540 plate appearances last year Cabrera had a 111 wRC+ which was the second highest among Mets infielders, behind Lucas Duda.
The youngster Amed Rosario will be the primary shortstop for the Mets next year in his first full season. Rosario’s first stint in the majors was disappointing to some after his status as a top prospect followed him. His offense in the majors was a huge letdown, with a 74 wRC+, 1.8 walk percentage, and a 28.8 strikeout percentage in 170 plate appearances to his name. Rosario’s most coveted skill was his fielding, but even that was worse than expected. In 374 innings at shortstop Rosario accumulated 1 DRS and a 1.6 UZR. While those figures aren’t terrible, its not what was expected after the defensive reputation that he came up with. But, the team has enough confidence in his ability to bounce back and produce that he will be starting on opening day at only 22 years of age.
Third base this season will be manned by the most recent offseason addition, Toms River’s own Todd Frazier. Frazier instantly upgrades the infield with his consistency on both sides of the ball. Frazier has been worth at least 3.0 bWAR every year since 2014 and has never had a wRC+ lower than 104 in that same time span. This past season between the White Sox and Yankees, Frazier had 10 DRS and a 6.7 UZR at third base. Another bonus with Frazier is his ability to play some first base if he is needed for whatever reason. The man who once stood next to Derek Jeter brings the Mets just what they were looking for on the offensive side of things, with power and drawing walks being Frazier’s greatest skills as a hitter.
The bench will include, Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes, with Dominic Smith potentially joining them or playing in Triple-A. Flores will act as a utility player with his experience playing all four infield positions. While he definitely isn’t a defensive wizard, he can be passable bouncing between second base and first base whenever someone needs time off or gets injured. Plus, his bat isn’t half bad, as evidenced by his 106 and 112 wRC+ over the past two seasons, respectively. Reyes will take on the same role he was intended to have last season: the super utility man. Things went quite wrong last year, and as a result, Reyes ended up with the most plate appearances of anyone on the team, to sub-par results. After a terrible first half, he rebounded to put up an .828 OPS in the second half. He’ll be splitting time between second base, shortstop, and third base filling in whenever there is an opening and figures to be used as a pinch runner, with his speed potentially being important in a late and close game.