Mets' roster decisions come with a variable
JUPITER, Fla. — Among the quirks of the condensed spring training and slightly delayed regular season: As the Mets mull a handful of decisions about the bottom of their roster, they don’t know yet how many players they are allowed to carry.
Normally, the active roster has 26 spots. This year, after a camp that will last about half as long as normal, MLB might expand rosters to start the season. It would be a way to lessen the early workload — particularly for pitchers — and help quell injury concerns.
Mets manager Buck Showalter is hoping for some wiggle room.
“I’m always going to err on the side of health,” Showalter said. “But I don’t have to pay the extra two guys. Very easy to talk about it when it’s not your money.”
Barring injury, the Mets don’t have many decisions to make. There are a couple of bullpen spots — including probably a lefthander — to fill. They need a fourth outfielder, a job for which former Stony Brook star Travis Jankowski is competing. And if they deem Taijuan Walker (right knee surgery) not ready to open the season in the rotation, they can choose among Tylor Megill, David Peterson and others as replacement No. 5 starters.
“Right now we’re operating with 26, knowing the possibility of more is there,” Showalter said. “We’ve already made some cuts, but you got some guys that might figure into a 28-man roster that wouldn’t figure into the 26. We’re hoping they get that settled here shortly.”
In their first significant round of spring training cuts, the Mets sent two of their best prospects — shortstop Ronny Mauricio and third baseman Mark Vientos — to minor-league camp.
Also headed to the other side of the Clover Park complex are infielder Travis Blankenhorn, outfielders Khalil Lee and Nick Plummer, catcher Patrick Mazeika and righthander Jose Butto.
Showalter talked up several of those players just before the Mets revealed the cuts.
“I see why it was important to get Plummer. That was a big acquisition for us,” Showalter said. “I can see why people love Khalil’s skill set and the potential he can bring for us. It’s nice to have that type of depth there. Some really good what-if pieces. And they can be more than that for us.”
Showalter said of Vientos: “I can see why everybody is so excited about him. Very fluid, good bat skills, and really coming defensively. He’s got a chance to be an impactful guy for us down the road.”
The Mets are down to 51 players in camp.
Longtime NFL coach Bill Parcells made an appearance on the field during the Mets’ workout before they played the Marlins, chatting up Showalter and, briefly, shortstop Francisco Lindor.
When Parcells asked if Lindor can play cornerback, Showalter told him, “He can tackle.”
Showalter managed the Yankees from 1992-95, after Parcells left the Giants but before he returned to New York with the Jets. But there nonetheless is a fraternity among the coaches/managers of New York’s major pro sports teams, Showalter said, to “share in the challenges.”
Jacob deGrom will make his Grapefruit League debut at 6 p.m. Tuesday against the Astros. The game will be on SNY.