It’s never too early to start breaking down the looming roster decisions that will have to be made following the 2018 season. Looking at the current Mets minor league rosters, 22 players are scheduled to become free agents, pursuant to MLR 55, while another 71 will be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft in December. The names below have been confirmed by official sources.
Unless the Mets add a prospective free agent to the 40-man roster on or before the fifth day following the World Series, all 22 players will be free to sign with any team. While those players are technically Rule 5 eligible as well, the deadline to protect the remaining 71 is November 20.
Of course, the Mets will not have to make a decision on all 93 players, as many will be released before the aforementioned dates. However, the current statuses can be broken down into the following groups, which are completely subjective and will change. I hope to update the groups sometime around the midway point of the season. The format of this article was adapted from the good folks over at TheCubReporter.com.
Eligible for minor league free agency after 2018 – possible call-up to MLB roster
Likely call-up during 2018 season – unlikely to be retained post-2018
All of these players were brought in because of their major league experience and, in the case of Kelly, the ability to plug in at multiple positions. Throughout his ten-year minor league career, the 29-year-old has seen time at every position except catcher, even pitching a perfect inning for Tacoma in 2014. While he hasn’t shown much with the bat in 147 major league at-bats, Kelly has ripped 14 extra-base hits already for Las Vegas.
While den Dekker has more big league experience than Brentz, the former has struggled to find much success early in the season. den Dekker has posted a frustrating slash line of .227/.269/.477, supported by a .278 BABIP and a 5.3% walk rate (he’s never been particularly patient at the plate, but his balls in play aren’t falling for hits either). Brentz, meanwhile, likely gets the first call to the majors among the non-40-man roster outfielders. Through his first 29 games, he’s collected seven home runs, eight doubles, and 11 walks, almost 30% of his career high. However, Brentz was just placed on the disabled list after fouling a ball off his foot.
Additionally, Brentz is in this group because he accepted an outright assignment just before the beginning of the season although he had previously been outrighted in his career. He’ll have from October 1 through 15 to decide whether to elect free agency, which nearly all players in this situation do, or remain in the organization (even though he could then elect after the conclusion of the World Series with everyone else).
I’m sure the Mets would like to avoid needing Worley at any point this season, but 667.0 major league innings don’t just appear out of thin air. He’s had fantastic seasons and terrible seasons, but at this point, the 30-year-old is likely not going to give you more than a healthy dose of ground balls and low walk totals (naturally, Worley has allowed six free passes to one strikeout in his first two Las Vegas outings).
Possible addition to 40-man roster post-World Series if not added during the regular season
RHP Nabil Crismatt
This situation isn’t common, but it’s one that’s worth monitoring as Crismatt continues his unlikely baseball journey. The Colombian native struggles to top 90 mph, but he’s put up fantastic numbers at every level of the minor leagues. Crismatt owns a career 3.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and a 4.5 K/BB rate. While his fastball is anything but blazing, it moves and spots well, while his changeup and curve already look like major league pitches. He’s an expert at preventing hard contact, which has led to the organization’s lowest HR/9 in 2018 (min. 20.0 IP).
Crismatt will walk free as a minor league free agent if he is not added to the 40-man roster by 5:00 P.M. on the fifth day following the World Series. The Mets most recently had to make such a decision with Josh Smoker, an impending free agent, prior to the 2016 season.
Long-shot to be added to 40-man roster during 2018 season – unlikely to be retained post-2018
This group also features some major league experience, but significantly less at only 52 total games. Borenstein and Gagnon are extreme filler, having signed this offseason after being declared six-year minor league free agents. As alarming as it sounds, Monell is the next catcher up on the depth chart, following the suboptimal tandem of Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton.
Eligible for Rule 5 Draft after 2018 – possible call-up to MLB roster
Possible call-up during regular season – unlikely to be on 40-man roster post-2018
RHP Kevin McGowan
McGowan was unremarkable during his eight-game major league cameo last season but that experience may give him the advantage over someone like Tim Peterson.
Possible addition to 40-man roster by November 20 if not added during the regular season
These two are the most likely November 20 adds at the moment. Uceta wasn’t taken in the Rule 5 Draft this past winter, but a full season in Double-A should give opposing scouts enough information about his major league future. Smith hasn’t seen the same success in Triple-A as the level below, but he’s still high on the organization’s priority list after last year’s showing and a spring training invite.
Eligible for minor league free agency after 2018 – unlikely call-up to MLB roster
Out of this group, Peterson is the most likely to see Queens at any point this year, but the fact that he’s one of only two currently in Triple-A says how much these players have to work to win the organization over after six seasons in the minors.
Eligible for Rule 5 Draft after 2018 – unlikely call-up to MLB roster
Possible addition to 40-man roster by November 20
Blackham is an interesting case, but given that he’s 25 playing in the Florida State League, his statistics should be taken with a grain of salt. McNeil has struggled to stay on the field his entire career, but .a 1.046 OPS through 20 games is nothing to scoff at; he’s shown impressive pop at his size. Taylor and Thompson both saw time in major league spring training but have gotten out to slow starts in Las Vegas. Thompson’s hand injury further complicates things, as there isn’t a timetable for his return.
Long-shot to get added to 40-man roster by November 20 (players listed at max level)
Double-A: RHP Andrew Church, INF Andrew Ely, INF J.J. Franco, RHP Michael Gibbons, RHP Eric Hanhold, OF Kevin Kaczmarski, RHP Johnny Magliozzi, C Patrick Mazeika, C Tyler Moore, RHP Joseph Shaw, OF Champ Stuart, RHP Joshua Torres, LHP Daniel Zamora
High-A: C Brandon Brosher, INF Luis Carpio, C Anthony Dimino, RHP Harol Gonzalez, LHP Taylor Henry, RHP Carlos Hernandez, LHP Joel Huertas, RHP Chase Ingram, RHP Gabriel Llanes, RHP Thomas McIlraith, RHP Alex Palsha, RHP Josh Prevost, LHP Blake Taylor, INF Dash Winningham
Statistics are current through Sunday, May 6.