One day, Luis Guillorme is going to have a spot on a Major League roster for as long as he desires one. Today might not be at that day.
The slick-fielding infielder’s roster spot might be in jeopardy with Todd Frazier set to return soon. At this point, it would be difficult for the Mets to justify sending him back to Las Vegas. Guillorme celebrated Memorial Day with the best day of his fledgling Major League career. He started both games of the Mets’ doubleheader in Atlanta and went 4-for-9 with three RBIs, including the two-run single in the seventh inning of the second game which put the Mets’ ahead for good. As Tim Healey of Newsday pointed out, Guillorme’s output on Monday matched Jose Reyes’ RBI total for the season.
With both Todd Frazier and Wilmer Flores on the disabled list, the Mets can afford to keep both Guillorme and Jose Reyes on the roster to move around the infield. However, Frazier is slated to begin a rehab assignment with the 51s this week, with a return to the parent club soon after. When he returns, the Mets will likely be forced to dispel an infielder.
Every ounce of logic dictates that Guillorme, the rookie with 30 big league at-bats, is the one to get sent down. But that does not mean that they should. In fact, to keep Jose Reyes on the roster instead of Guillorme would be a tragedy of near-Shakespearian proportions.
The struggles of Jose Reyes have been covered exhaustively. He turns 35 on June 11 and is a mere 10-for-64 so far this season. His OPS+ was an atrocious 24 coming into last night’s game, whereas an OPS+ of 100 is considered league average. On the other side of the ball, he’s committed four errors in 32 defensive chances. He has already tallied minus-three defensive runs saved. He’s already worth -0.8 wins above (or, in his case, below) replacement, which is ridiculous considering he has only appeared in 36 games.
Guillorme, on the other hand, is sitting right where a player with so few at-bats should be sitting in terms of WAR: at a neutral zero. Guillorme, of course, has handled every chance at both second base and third base without issue. It is important to note that Guillorme, a natural shortstop, has yet to play any shortstop for the Mets. In fact, he’s played mostly third base in the Majors, a position he had only ever played 17 professional innings at.
Guillorme is often misconceived as a glove-only player. While he is obviously phenomenal with the glove and undoubtedly the best defensive player the Mets have anywhere within the organization, there is every indication that he can also carry his weight offensively. One thing he has never done, and likely will never do with any sort of consistency, is hit the ball out of the ballpark. However, the lefty-swinging Guillorme is stronger than he lets on. His slugging percentage has increased every season since 2016, and he drove nine extra-base hits in 105 at-bats in Las Vegas before his call-up.
Guillorme hits balls over the fence in batting practice with regularity. However, he admits that he would like to see it translate to game situations, much like everyone else.
“Now that I’ve gotten a little stronger and a little older I know I can do it. It’s just a matter of implementing what I do in practice in the games.”
Part of the reason Guillorme does not hit the ball off or over the wall during games is that his approach does not lend itself to hitting for power. In his brief cup-of-coffee with the Mets, he is yet to pull a baseball to right field. There seems to be a good reason for that, too.
Guillorme was among Minor League Baseball’s leaders in walks a season ago. He walked 72 times, and placed fifth in the Eastern League in on-base percentage, at .372. With just 55 strikeouts in Binghamton a season ago, Guillorme held the lowest K% in Double-A. This means he was the toughest man to strikeout in the Eastern League. He had gotten on base at a .394 clip in Vegas to begin 2018. His disciplined approach causes him to see the ball deep into the zone and take pitches to the opposite field. Guillorme handles the bat well enough to protect himself against shifts, too. If teams shade him toward the left field line, it is not out of the realm of possibility for him to begin pulling the baseball.
The decision should be obvious for the Mets. There is no point to keep Reyes, who has been the least productive position player in baseball, on the roster for any reason. Guillorme is younger, cheaper, and fills the same role (utility infielder) and does it remarkably better.