It’s hard to fault the New York Mets for the Adrian Gonzalez signing. The veteran first baseman was a bargain and the first base situation was unsettled after Dominic Smith scuffled last season in New York. Adding Gonzalez was supposed to be an experiment, and that experiment has failed. It’s time to move on.
Gonzalez has stepped into the batter’s box 174 times this season — fifth-most on the team. Gonzalez has a .248 batting average and .699 OPS this year, just 2-for-19 in the month of June and has just nine RBI since April ended. His offensive woes may be hidden by the slumps of others, but he’s certainly not helping his cause.
When the season started, the Mets had dreams of a playoff spot, and those dreams were only amplified by the hot start in April. At that time, it made some sense to have Gonzalez, a veteran bat, in the middle of the lineup.
But as the Mets’ record heads south, Gonzalez’s spot on the team is starting to make less and less sense. He isn’t producing, isn’t part of the team’s future, has no trade value, and costs nothing for the Mets to release. And for a team that needs an offensive shakeup, releasing Gonzalez would be the start.
One of the reasons this hasn’t happened yet is that Smith isn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball in Las Vegas. He’s posted a .727 OPS this season, including just a .474 mark in June. Promoting Smith, though, makes sense on a a few levels. First, he’s likely an upgrade over Gonzalez. Promoting Smith and giving him another run at the MLB level (perhaps until the trade deadline), will give him a chance to show the front office what he is, while also injecting some needed youth into the team.
The second reason is to ironically aid in the development of Smith’s direct competition — Peter Alonso. With a 1.049 OPS at Double-A, Alonso has earned the right to test himself at the next level, and it’s probably in the Mets’ best interests to see what he can do in Triple-A. If he succeeds there, a fast track to the Major Leagues could immediately help plug a gaping hole at first base with a much-needed right-hand bat.
And finally, there’s the best of both worlds scenario — Smith and Alonso both hit. With no need for two first basemen of the future, the Mets could have an attractive trade chip to get another piece for the future.
To put it simply, seeing what Smith and Alonso can do at their next respective levels is of great benefit to the Mets, while continuing to play Gonzalez is of no benefit. The Mets need an offensive spark, and they need to figure out their future. There’s a chance they could do both by releasing Gonzalez.