Thursday is Sept. 1, which means it is time for one of baseball’s quirkier traditions: Larger rosters for the final month or so of the season.
With so much pandemic-roster roster-size funkiness in recent years, consider this a reminder, too, that expanded rosters now means a jump from 26 players to 28. Gone are the days of up to 40 guys, with gigantic groups of relievers and more players than available lockers.
The Mets, manager Buck Showalter said, have options — so many, in fact, that he wishes the Mets had, say, 30 spots.
“There’s some good ones,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “These are guys who are going to come in and contribute.”
Showalter indicated that the Mets would call up one position player and one pitcher Thursday. Here is a rundown of some of their options.
Mark Vientos: The 22-year-old third baseman/first baseman/designated hitter has proven he can hit Triple-A pitching. That is especially true vs. lefthanders, against whom he has slashed .343/.411/.759 this season with Syracuse. The Mets have struggled against southpaws, and Darin Ruf — acquired at the trade deadline to be the DH against lefties — entered play Wednesday with a .206/.263/.294 slash line with his new team.
The Mets were uninterested in Vientos enough that they called up an outfielder (Terrance Gore) on Wednesday when third baseman Brett Baty went on the injured list.
“What would you do with him?” Showalter said of Vientos. “What would you do with Ruf?”
Showalter did allow that Vientos is an option, by virtue of being on the 40-man roster, but added: “We’re hoping he finishes up strong down there and completes a pretty good season.”
Dominic Smith: Since his most recent demotion to the minors, has hit .292 with a .410 OBP and .431 slugging percentage — solid, if not setting the world on fire. He nonetheless would give the Mets a strong defensive backup first baseman and, maybe, give them a last look at the former first-round draft pick before needing to decide what to do with him this offseason.
Michael Perez: The Mets have mulled the option of carrying a third catcher, which they did briefly in August. And Perez — a defense-first, offense-way-second backstop — did impress in his major-league cameo. If nothing else, Perez would allow Showalter to more aggressively pinch hit for James McCann and Tomas Nido.
Daniel Palka: He would be another lefthanded-hitting pinch-hit/DH option, like Daniel Vogelbach. The Mets considered calling him up on at least one occasion this year. Still with Syracuse, Palka had a .944 OPS in August. He isn’t on the 40-man roster, but as Showalter said, the Mets “can make a roster spot.”
Adonis Medina: Despite not pitching well since his most recent major-league appearance (a six-run, four-out mess in Atlanta), Medina is among the few healthy pitcher options not already with the Mets. He had a 4.63 ERA in 13 games but showed flashes of a pitcher better than that, like his 10th-inning save against the Dodgers on June 5. He also can pitch multiple innings, a skill the Mets value.
Yoan Lopez: After a two-week absence, Lopez returned with a scoreless inning for Syracuse late last week. Like Medina, he has had only fleeting success in sporadic major-league chances, posting a 5.73 ERA in eight games, but nonetheless is healthy.
Carlos Carrasco: He is expected to slot back into the rotation this weekend, so someone will need to come off the roster when that happens, rendering any of the above choices potentially temporary.