Last year, Luis Guillorme made the Opening Day roster for the first time in his professional career. It was a big accomplishment for the youngster, whose solid defense had long made up for offensive shortcomings.
With the roster expanding to 30 to kick things off, Guillorme will almost definitely find himself on the Opening Day roster for a second straight season, and he deserves the chance after what he showed last year. The 25-year-old is far from the flashiest homegrown player on the club, as I mentioned in my initial season for him back in March, but he brings infield versatility and a terrific glove that will both serve the team well, especially in a shortened season where the team will need to utilize every part of its roster to succeed.
Guillorme saw about as much playing time in 2019 as he did in his 2018 debut season, although he was much more productive at the plate last year. In his first go-around in the majors in 2018, he slashed .209/.284/.239 with a 52 wRC+ and a -0.2 fWAR in 35 games. He saw an uptick across the board last year, posting a .246/.324/.361 slash line with an 87 wRC+ and a 0.2 fWAR in 45 games, albeit in 61 at-bats compared to 67 at-bats the previous year. He also enjoyed his biggest moment at the major league level last August when he homered off Nationals reliever Fernando Rodney to tie up a game in the eighth. The Mets went on to win the game, which was pivotal to their playoff push at the time.
In the field, Guillorme can play second, third, and shortstop, the latter of which will be crucial should anything happen to Amed Rosario. Guillorme’s lone competition as a reserve shortstop would be Eduardo Nunez, who was invited to spring training 1.0 and figures to land a spot with the team this time around as well. Other than them, the team doesn’t have a whole lot of options should anything happen to Rosario, and if Guillorme could continue to improve his offensive production, he should figure to get those chances.
He spent the most time at shortstop last season and generally posted his best defensive numbers at the position. In 48.2 innings there, he posted a 1 DRS along with a 14.2 UZR/150. He spent 33.0 innings at second, where his 2 DRS was better but came along with a -26.7 UZR/150. He only spent 21.0 innings at third, where he ended up with a 0 DRS and a -10.7 UZR/150. His numbers don’t tell the whole picture, however, as he’s become known to make some sparkling plays in the field that are worth a second (and third, and fourth) viewing.
Guillorme also may see some playing time to start the year at second. Robinson Cano was mysteriously absent for a while from summer camp, having only just returned on July 14 with no explanation of what caused his disappearance. While he’s here and practicing like normal now, it remains to be seen whether he will be ready to start on Opening Day. The team has several ways they can play with Cano missing any sort of time. They can choose to go Jeff McNeil at his natural second base while shifting J.D. Davis to third for maximum offense. Alternately, they can keep McNeil at third and slide Guillorme into second base, which gives them a more sound defensive alignment in the infield. This, of course, is all guesswork and hinges on whether Cano will need more time to get himself ready.
Guillorme will have plenty of chances to contribute in 2020, especially given how wacky and uncertain this baseball season could be. With 60 games scheduled in 68 days, the team will want to keep their players as fresh as possible, so look for Guillorme to get plenty of opportunities late to step in and spell a veteran fielder when the team is in need of some steady defense to close out a win. Similarly, his bat showed some improvement last year, which could get him some additional plate appearances this season. If he can keep steadily working on his offensive production, there will be a spot on the Mets’ roster for Guillorme for years to come, and he could become an invaluable utility piece.