The Mets made a somewhat surprising roster move today, releasing infielder T.J. Rivera, who had yet to play in a spring training game as he continues to rehab from his 2017 Tommy John surgery. Rivera last played in a game for the Mets on July 26, 2017. He then underwent the operation in September of that year and missed the entire 2018 season, and figured to start the 2019 season on the injured list as Adeiny well.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen cited the team’s organizational depth at second base between both the MLB and Triple-A teams as the reason for his release. The Mets currently have Robinson Cano entrenched as the second baseman, with Jeff McNeil, Jed Lowrie, Luis Guillorme, Danny Espinosa, Dilson Herrera, Gavin Cecchini, and Arismendy Alcantara all viable options to play there if needed as well.
A career minor leaguer, Rivera made the big leagues against all odds in 2016 at the age of 28, and became a key player in the Mets’ 2016 run at the wild card. He was called up in mid-August of that year after hitting for a 142 wRC+ at Triple-A Las Vegas, and eventually took over as the everyday second baseman when Neil Walker went down later that month. In 33 games with the team down the stretch, he hit .333/.345/.476 with a 120 wRC+, and helped propel the Mets into the wild card game, which he started at second base. He then hit for a 104 wRC+ in 231 plate appearances in 2017 before going down.
Rivera’s release opens up a spot on the Mets’ 40-man roster, which is now at 39 players. The spot could be used for Pete Alonso, should he start the year at the MLB level, or for another non-roster infielder such as Adeiny Hechavarria or Espinosa.