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Mets Spring Training Preview: Third base competition among storylines to watch

Brett Baty enters spring as a candidate to start for the Mets at the hot corner.
Brett Baty enters spring as a candidate to start for the Mets at the hot corner.

The Mets‘ Clover Field complex in Port St. Lucie is already seeing plenty of action with just over a week to go before pitchers and catchers report for spring training. The equipment truck departed Queens on Friday and several players have already arrived in anticipation of the 2024 season.

A year ago, the lineup and the rotation were more or less locked in before camp even opened. The Mets returned much of the same lineup from their 2022 Wild Card team and had replaced departing starters with high-end veteran talent. This spring, however, things are far from settled.

A new president of baseball operations (David Stearns) and a new manager (Carlos Mendoza) will oversee a team with elite veteran talent and plenty of emerging question marks as well. The Mets opted not to get a big bat this winter, instead choosing to prioritize at-bats for young players like Mark Vientos and Brett Baty. The Mets fortified the pitching staff but also have some back-end pitchers who will push for starting spots and relief roles.

Here’s a look at where the Mets stand as they head into spring training and some anticipated position battles.


Without Ronny Mauricio, Baty and Vientos will compete for the starting job. Utility infielder Joey Wendle will be an insurance policy of sorts.

Baty struggled at times last year and at others, the 24-year-old showed flashes of power. Vientos brought three gloves to spring training last season and he may do the same this year, though he’s not expected to be a part of the outfield conversation. He’s expected to be utilized heavily as a DH, but he’ll get a shot to win that job.

Wendle was signed to a one-year contract in late November. His bat hasn’t been the same since his All-Star season in 2021, but he’s a capable defender at several spots. Look for Wendle to play at second when Jeff McNeil starts in the outfield.


The biggest question here is whether or not Brandon Nimmo will move to left field full-time to accommodate Harrison Bader in center field. Bader is an elite defender and Stearns has made it clear that run prevention is a key emphasis, but the answer as to whether or not Nimmo will move permanently is still somewhat unclear.

Maybe. Probably. It’s likely.

Bader will make $10.5 million next year, which isn’t fourth-outfielder money. Nimmo told Stearns that he’s open to doing whatever the club feels is best. Last month, Stearns said the team plans to wait until after spring training to evaluate all options. Bader has been somewhat injury-prone throughout his career, but then again, so has Nimmo.

Tyrone Taylor, who was acquired in the trade with the Brewers for right-handed starter Adrian Houser, can play all three outfield positions and limit runs. In 331 games, Taylor has never made an error, and while errors might not be a defining metric, it’s still an impressive number. His +2 OAA indicates range and he has a plus-arm. He has some pop in his bat as well.

All of this is to say that Taylor is there if Starling Marte can’t return to old form. He’s finally healthy after dealing with groin injuries last season, which should bode well for the Mets moving forward.


It’s not much of a competition behind the plate. Francisco Alvarez is coming off a banner rookie season highlighted by 25 home runs and rave reviews from pitchers. Omar Narvaez is No. 2 on the depth chart. Stearns, who traded for Narvaez in 2019 as the head of baseball ops with the Milwaukee Brewers, has said that the catcher is eager to play and will


Tylor Megill has faced competition for a starting role in each of the last two years and yet ended up starting the home opener in 2022 and 2023. Once again, he’ll have to compete with a veteran group for a spot. Kodai Senga, Luis Severino, Jose Quintana, Sean Manaea and Houser are penciled in to go 1-5, so that means Megill, Jose Butto and Joey Lucchesi (left) will compete for a potential sixth spot in the rotation.

Once again, the Mets plan to use a six-man rotation periodically next year, depending on the schedule. Lucchesi, Megill and Butto all have minor-league options left, so they’ll all receive starts at some point. For now, they’ll compete with a more established group in camp.


Outside of Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley, the bullpen competition is relatively open. Right-hander Drew Smith can be penciled in once again and should the Mets complete the deal with Jake Diekman, he’ll give the Mets another left-handed option outside of Raley. Shintaro Fujinami is a wild card given his up-and-down rookie season. Michael Tonkin, Jorge Lopez, Yohan Ramirez, Sean Reid-Foley, Grant Hartwig and left-hander Josh Walker are all in the mix for the remaining spots.