Dominic Smith provided the Mets with a loud answer Sunday about which position player should depart with MLB rosters on the verge of shrinking to 26.
Answer: Somebody not named Dominic Smith.
The previously slumping first baseman was in the middle of just about everything on this night, helping the Mets win their seventh straight series to begin the season (extending a franchise record) with a 10-6 victory over the Phillies at Citi Field.
Smith went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, a night before general manager Billy Eppler will subtract two players following 3 ½ weeks of expanded rosters after the shortened spring training due to the lockout. One will be reliever Yoan Lopez, who packed his suitcase after the game, leaving his locker empty. Smith, who has minor league options remaining, could be a candidate for demotion to Triple-A Syracuse, but there is also the matter of underwhelming Robinson Cano, who could be released.
“I think it’s definitely going to be a very emotional day no matter who it is,” Smith said, adding that he hasn’t been told anything. “It will be something to see. I think this team has really grown to love each other and love playing with each other and [Monday] will be interesting.”
Cano owns a .195/.233/.268 slash line with one homer and three RBIs in 43 plate appearances since returning from a PED suspension that cost him all of 2021.
The Mets still owe the 39-year-old second baseman $37 million on a contract that runs through next season. Cano indicated after the game the Mets had not told him anything.
“I am still here,” he said.
Before the game, Francisco Lindor was asked about the possibility his friend Cano would be released.
“I wouldn’t be happy,” Lindor said. “I don’t want to see that happen. He’s a good teammate, a good person and obviously he’s got a great track record and we all know what he’s capable of doing. I don’t care how old he is, the mind is still fresh and he can still hit.”
Travis Jankowski has emerged as a dependable backup outfielder whom Buck Showalter and Eppler like and does not have minor league options remaining. If the Mets were to designate him for assignment he would have to clear waivers before he could return to the organization.
Jankowski said he has “no worries” about losing his roster spot.
“I know my role,” Jankowski said. “Fourth outfielder type, where it’s just go in and be a defensive replacement late in the game, go steal a bag, score from first on a double. It’s one of those things that is vital in this game. It’s needed for a winning team.”
Showalter isn’t looking forward to the “tough” roster decision that will be finalized before noon on Monday.
“We’re going to have to part ways with someone … it’s going to be painful,” Showalter said. “But we have got some good players.”
Smith entered with a .167/.295/.194 slash line, and nearly doubled his hits total in one night (he entered with six). Jeff McNeil joined Smith with an outburst, going 4-for-5 with an RBI.
In the fourth, Smith stroked an RBI double that tied it 3-3 following Eduardo Escobar’s leadoff single. Luis Guillorme’s double over Odubel Herrera’s head in center had given the Mets a 2-1 lead in the second against Zach Eflin following Starling Marte’s RBI fielder’s choice.
Smith’s two-run single in the fifth highlighted an inning in which the Mets scored three times to take a 6-3 lead. After McNeil doubled Lindor to third, Pete Alonso was intentionally walked to load the bases and reliever Jose Alvarado crossed up catcher JT Realmuto, leading to a passed ball for a run. Smith followed with his third hit of the game, giving him three RBIs.
In the sixth, Smith delivered a single for his fourth hit of the game. Marte followed with a two-run single that extended the lead to 9-4.
“It was fun to get back out there and play and contribute to a win,” Smith said.
Max Scherzer opened the game with five straight strikeouts (a first in his career), but got blitzed by the long ball, surrendering three homers over six innings in allowing a season-high four earned runs.
Kyle Schwarber’s second blast of the game, a two-run homer with two outs in the fourth, placed the Mets in a 3-2 hole. Bryce Harper homered in the sixth against Scherzer.