June 18, 2024

Jeff McNeil is batting only.227 this season, and changes may be on the horizon.
Brett Baty’s future plans with the New York Mets may have changed as he considers a new role. He might be a new option for the Mets at second base as the team attempts to solve its third-base dilemma, which has plagued them all season.

When the Mets optioned Baty to the minors last week, they promised him more reps at second base, but that hasn’t happened yet, according to Tim Healey of Newsday. Baty’s return to the Mets today as the designated 27th man for this weekend’s games in London against the Phillies raises new questions about Jeff McNeil’s future.

Brett Baty learning second base may be the beginning of the end of Jeff McNeil’s tenure with the Mets.

During spring training, the Mets faced an intriguing race for the third base position. It eventually went to Baty, when Mark Vientos was relegated to the minors to begin the season. However, Baty suffered a poor slump in May and eventually lost the third base job to Vientos, who annihilated his Triple-A opponents.

Vientos’ excellent hitting in limited play and better glove may have landed him the third base position in the majors for the remainder of the season. He has a 1.013 OPS and five home runs in 74 plate appearances for the Mets this season.

If Baty wants to play, he will need to play somewhere in the infield. Because of Francisco Lindor, Baty is unable to play shortstop, and Pete Alonso prevents him from playing first base. If Alonso retires this offseason, the Mets might assign Vientos to first base and Ronny Mauricio to third base in 2025.

 

Mets plan to try Baty at second base in minors - Newsday

 

Baty’s potentially career-changing decision serves as yet another warning sign for Jeff McNeil, who has recently appeared to be limited to platoon level play. McNeil, a lefty, has only started against righties in the last week. Jose Iglesias has started against every southpaw the Mets have faced since his callup last week, totaling seven hits in 18 at-bats. Brett Baty happens to be a lefty.

It also helps that Baty will get some much-needed Triple-A experience to demonstrate his versatility. He has only played 34 Triple-A games in his career. Baty’s lack of Triple-A experience may have contributed to his offensive troubles in the majors, as well as the protracted slumps that occurred when teams adjusted to him.

Remember, two years ago, Baty was one of baseball’s top 25 prospects. In 2022, Baty excelled in Double-A for four months before being promoted to Triple-A and then to the majors just a week later for a spark.

 

Mets' Jeff McNeil 'victim of extraordinary amount of bad luck'

 

If the Mets believe Baty is capable of playing second base in the major leagues, Jeff McNeil’s time in New York will be up. 2024 could be another year in which player evaluation for the next season becomes a priority. Jeff McNeil would not be in their long-term plans if this were the case.

Baty changing positions could be the greatest solution to the third-base stalemate between him and Mark Vientos, as the Mets strive to have a younger, more athletic club in the future.

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