Dominic Smith provided the Mets with a vocal response on Sunday about which position the player should leave with MLB rosters set to shrink to 26.
Answer: Someone not named Dominic Smith.
The previously plummeting first baseman was in the middle of just about everything that night, helping the Mets win their seventh straight series to start the season (extending a franchise record) with a 10-6 victory on the Phillies at Citi Field.
Smith went 4 for 4 with three RBIs, a night before general manager Billy Eppler pulled two players after 3½ weeks of expanded rosters after spring training shortened due to the lockdown. One will be reliever Yoan Lopez, who packed up after the game, leaving his locker empty. Smith, who still has minor league options, could be a candidate for demotion to Triple-A Syracuse, but there’s also the matter of disappointing Robinson Cano, who could be released.
“I think it’s definitely going to be a very emotional day, whoever it is,” Smith said, adding that he hadn’t been told anything. “It will be something to see. I think this team has really grown to love each other and love playing with each other and [Monday] will be interesting.
Cano owns a .195/.233/.268 slant line with one homer and three RBIs in 43 plate appearances since returning from a PED suspension that cost him all of 2021.
The Mets still owe the 39-year-old second baseman $37 million on a contract that runs through next season. Cano said after the game that the Mets didn’t tell him.
“I’m still here,” he said.
Before the match, Francisco Lindor was asked about the possibility of his friend Cano being released.
“I wouldn’t be happy,” Lindor said. “I don’t want that to happen. He’s a good teammate, a good person and he obviously has a great record and we all know what he’s capable of. I don’t care how old he is, the spirit is still fresh and he can still strike.
Travis Jankowski has become a reliable backup outfielder that Buck Showalter and Eppler love and is out of minor league options. If the Mets were to nominate him for an assignment, he would have to approve the waivers before he could return to the organization.
Jankowski said he had “no worries” about losing his spot on the roster.
“I know my role,” Jankowski said. “Type of fourth outfielder, where you just have to come in and be a defensive substitute at the end of the game, go steal a sack, score first on a double. It’s one of those things that’s vital in this game. It’s necessary for a winning team.
Showalter isn’t looking forward to the “difficult” slate decision that will be finalized by noon Monday.
“We’re going to have to part ways with someone…it’s going to be painful,” Showalter said. “But we have good players.”
Smith entered with a .167/.295/.194 slash line and nearly doubled his hit total in one night (he entered with six). Jeff McNeil joined Smith with a blast, going 4 for 5 with an RBI.
In the fourth, Smith hit an RBI double that tied it 3-3 after Eduardo Escobar’s first single. Luis Guillorme’s brace off Odubel Herrera’s header at center had given the Mets a 2-1 lead in the second over Zach Eflin after the RBI outfielder’s RBI pick of Starling Marte.
Smith’s two-run single in the fifth highlighted an inning in which the Mets scored three times to take a 6-3 lead. After McNeil doubled Lindor in third, Pete Alonso was intentionally walked to load the bases and reliever Jose Alvarado crossed receiver JT Realmuto, leading to a passed ball for a run. Smith followed with his third hit of the game, giving him three RBIs.
In the sixth, Smith singled for his fourth hit of the game. Marte followed with a two-run single that extended the lead to 9-4.
“It was fun to get back on the court and play and contribute to a win,” Smith said.
Max Scherzer opened the game with five straight outs (a career first), but got blitzed by the long ball, giving up three homers in six innings while allowing a season-high four earned runs.
Kyle Schwarber’s second hit of the game, a two-run homer with two out in the fourth, put the Mets in a 3-2 hole. Bryce Harper homered in the sixth against Scherzer.