Almost nothing is certain about the Mets from season to season, especially health-wise. And nothing is certain about playing baseball during a worldwide pandemic either, except that it’s probably a bad idea.
Which is to say, I can’t be certain that Max Moroff won’t play for the 2020 Mets. It’s improbable, sure, but so is even playing baseball this year, so why not.
The 26-year-old utility infielder is with the Mets as a non-roster invitee, his third team since breaking into the majors in 2016. He’s one of four such NRIs with the Mets and in their special coronavirus “player pool,” along with Eduardo Nunez, Gordon Beckham and the recently-added Jake Hager. Besides the NRIs, Andres Giminez, Luis Guillorme and The Ghost of Jed Lowire are also varying degrees of in the way of Mets Moroff being a thing.
A point in Moroff’s favor: when spring training was canceled, he led the team in walks with five in 28 plate appearances, helping him on his way to a .357 on-base percentage.
A point against Moroff: he mostly scuffled after a hot start, batting just .217 with two doubles and nine strikeouts.
Even worse for Moroff, Nunez comparatively raked, hitting .321/.387/.464 and winning the abbreviated but just-as-coveted King of Spring Training.
There’s nothing exciting about Moroff, but then that’s true of almost every bench utility guy anyway. However, he doesn’t even have the usual Mets’ bootleg version of exciting, whether it’s an All-Star appearance literally ever (Nunez made the 2016 team) or long-gone draft pedigree (Beckham was the eighth overall pick in 2008, Hager 32nd overall in 2011). He’s a light-hitting 16th round pick with 213 career major league at-bats, with over 56 percent of them coming in 2017 for the 75-win Pirates.
He strikes out a lot (about 40 percent of his at-bats), rarely walks despite his spring training total, and doesn’t bring power to the table with 14 total extra-base hits, including seven home runs.
But he’s a warm body with playing time at second, third and short, something that, given the nature of this ill-advised season, could suddenly be in short supply at any time.
Not offering much in the way of skills isn’t always been a prerequisite for being on the Mets’ bench (see: Altherr, Aaron though he is, admittedly, raking in the KBO), and the path to playing time could unfortunately come much faster this season for even the deepest reaches of the bench.
Robinson Cano’s mysterious absence from the beginning of camp may have been coronavirus-related (no one has said one way or the other), and Jarrett Parker and Brad Brach are on the COVID-19 IL.
Players are going to continue to get sick; that’s the nature of deciding to go forward with a season while coronavirus cases continue to go up in this country. The odds you see more below replacement level players like Moroff are better than they’ve ever been. Whether games should be played if things get to that point are its own article.