ARLINGTON, Va. — Acknowledging a series of transactions telegraphed in the waning days of spring training, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Wednesday that the Mets’ Opening Day roster includes both of their young first basemen, Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith.
“When players perform and earn opportunities, we as an industry — and certainly the New York Mets — will reward those players for those performances,” Van Wagenen said. “[Alonso] showed us and he showed his teammates that he was one of those 25 guys and he earned it. And that’s true for Dominic Smith.”
The Mets could have started Alonso in the minors for part of April to gain a seventh year of team control, delaying Alonso’s eventual free agency. They did not let service-time considerations factor in, true to their word through the offseason and spring training.
“I do want to focus on winning games, and let’s win as many as we can as early as we can in the season,” said Van Wagenen, a former agent. “I’m not of the mindset that we should be sacrificing the best product for the fans and the best product for the other 24 guys in that clubhouse to save service time or potential future money six years down the road.
“If Pete Alonso or anybody on our roster is good enough to have six consecutive years without having a hiccup and without having to go to the minor leagues, that’s a high-class problem for the organization and it’s a reward the fans will be fortunate to see.”
Also making the final cut were Tomas Nido, who will be the backup catcher with Travis d’Arnaud (Tommy John surgery) placed on the injured list, and righthander Tim Peterson, who snagged the seventh bullpen job. Infielders Luis Guillorme and J.D. Davis help fill out the bench, and the Mets will add lefthander Luis Avilan to the 40- and 25-man rosters, a formality after he effectively locked up a roster spot midway through camp.
“The guys that earned it are here, and I’m happy for them,” Van Wagenen said.
The Mets won’t formally submit their roster until pregame Thursday.
As expected, Jed Lowrie (sprained left knee capsule) and Todd Frazier (strained left oblique) will land on the 10-day IL alongside d’Arnaud. Yoenis Cespedes (heel surgeries last year) and Drew Smith (Tommy John surgery this month) are obvious choices to go on the 60-day IL, which frees up spots on the 40-man roster.
Altogether, the Mets’ season-opening roster contained no surprises and fulfills their oft-repeated promise to use “the best 25” players out of camp.
That includes Alonso, 24, and Smith, 23. Now it’s up to manager Mickey Callaway and the Mets’ other decision-makers to determine when to play which first baseman. Callaway has said they won’t play in a straight platoon.
With Jacob deGrom signed long-term, might the Mets try to do the same with other core players? “It was important to get this one done first,” Van Wagenen said. “You have to make tough decisions. Some are easier than others.” Zack Wheeler, due to be a free agent after 2019, is open to an extension, a source said. But the closer he gets to the end of the season, the more likely he will be to hit the open market … The Mets announced catcher Rene Rivera’s minor-league deal. He will join Triple-A Syracuse … Van Wagenen said Devin Mesoraco is still free to join Syracuse, but if he doesn’t by the minor-league opener, he’ll be put on the restricted list.