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For Mets, uncertainty with Mesoraco, Hechavarria, others this week

Explaining 'upward mobility clauses' and what it means for the Mets

Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco during a spring training

Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco during a spring training workout on Feb. 20, 2019 in Port St. Lucie. Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets don’t leave their spring training facility until Monday and don’t have to formally submit their 25-man roster to the league office until they’re in Washington for Opening Day on March 28. But a technicality might force them into a couple of roster decisions prior to that.

Catcher Devin Mesoraco, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria and outfielder Rajai Davis have in their minor-league contracts an “upward mobility clause” — which allows them to get a big-league gig elsewhere if a team wants them — that went into effect Wednesday. Lefthanded reliever Luis Avilan faces the same setup in a few days.

“We have a lot of roster decisions to make and we have a lot of tough ones, which is good,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “That means our players are performing well in camp, and we have a lot of talent to make decisions on.”

Upward mobility clauses work in three phases, as detailed below, using Mesoraco as an example.

1) By a predetermined date — Wednesday, in this case — the Mets had to add Mesoraco to the 40-man roster or inform other teams that he is available. (The Mets didn’t add Mesoraco, because there is no incentive to do so at this stage.)

2) The Mets tell the other 29 teams that Mesoraco is available. Those teams have until Friday to say they want him.

3) If a team wants Mesoraco, the Mets can let him go or add him to the 40-man roster. If multiple teams want Mesoraco, the Mets can work out a trade or add him to the 40-man roster. If no team wants Mesoraco, the Mets keep him on his minor-league deal (and still can add him to the major-league team as they could any other player).

That’s a convoluted way of giving a veteran in spring training on a minor-league deal every chance to get a major-league job.

For the Mets, it could mean making up their minds shortly. Mesoraco has a chance to make the Opening Day roster, either as the backup to Wilson Ramos or as a co-backup with Travis d’Arnaud.

The Mets still are unsure of d’Arnaud’s readiness after Tommy John surgery last April. They plan to have d’Arnaud catch Thursday and Friday — starting consecutive games behind the plate being one of his final hurdles — and hope he can catch a nine-inning game by the time camp ends Monday. Carrying three catchers is a possibility, the team has said.

Hechavarria is a strong candidate to make the team as a utility infielder (or, less likely, as the regular third baseman while Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie are hurt).

Davis doesn’t appear to have a spot on the major-league Mets and thus easily could be let go if claimed.

Avilan has impressed team decision-makers, so it would be an easy decision to add him to the 40-man roster if another team tries to grab him.

Notes & quotes: Zack Wheeler threw seven scoreless innings in an intrasquad scrimmage Wednesday. Most of the Mets were off, but Wheeler got his work in after his start Tuesday was rained out. He allowed four hits, struck out six and walked none. “Wheeler was fantastic,” Callaway said … Righthander Simeon Woods Richardson, the Mets’ second-round draft pick last year, impressed Callaway with his inning in the scrimmage. Callaway said the 18-year-old reminds him of Marcus Stroman “body control-wise.” “Obviously a really good athlete,” Callaway said. “Clean delivery, has a lot of velo and a great breaking ball he can mix up.” … The Mets still are considering breaking camp with both of their first basemen, Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. Callaway said he isn’t sure how playing time would be split, but it wouldn’t be a straight platoon. “I’ve been thinking a lot about that," he said, "because that’s something that could happen."

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