Dominic Smith heard all the trade rumors featuring his name circulate this past weekend. And as he sat on the beach with his girlfriend, he wondered about his fate. Would he be dealt to the San Diego Padres for Eric Hosmer and Chris Paddack? Ultimately, the New York Mets called off the trade.
So, where does Smith stand heading into the Mets’ 2022 campaign?
The 26-year-old outfielder and first baseman has been hot at the plate in 11 Grapefruit League games this spring, hitting .440 with two home runs and six RBI. With an OBP of .533 and OPS of 1.413, Smith is playing for a full-time role on the Mets.
Smith struggled mightily last season, though, slashing .244/.304/.363 in 145 games. In that span, he recorded 11 home runs and 58 RBI. He spent a majority of his time defensively in the outfield as Pete Alonso held the everyday first baseman role.
The utility player dealt with injuries throughout 2021. He suffered a right wrist strain and groin injury for a majority of the season. Despite the ailments, he avoided the injured list. But it was revealed during the offseason he sustained a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder in late May/early July, due largely in part to playing through his wrist injury, which caused him to have a one-handed follow through on his swing.
Though the injury did not require surgery, it robbed Smith of his offensive abilities. Smith’s performance declined heavily due after coming off a shortened 2020 season as one of the league’s best hitters, slashing .316/.377/.616 with a .993 OPS, 168 OPS+, 10 home runs, and 42 RBI.
With the National League instilling the designated hitter this season, it gives Smith a chance to try to build himself back up at the plate. Still, Robinson Canó is back with the Mets one year after being suspended for PEDs, and will likely serve as the primary DH.
Smith wants a chance to play every day but must accept a part-time role until he proves himself capable of making an impact on this team.
“I don’t think any player in the big leagues wants to be a part-time player or a backup player, so if the opportunity is out there, who wouldn’t want to play every day?” Smith said in an interview with media following the Mets’ 3-3 tie with the Houston Astros on Monday, April 4. “Those exact words didn’t come from my mouth, but I’m here, it’s out of my control. I can’t trade myself and I can’t put myself in the lineup. All I can do is show what I can and that’s what I do out on the field and that’s all I plan to do is to play hard and play well.”
Smith said he is prepared to play outfield, first, DH, and come off the bench and expressed he is happy to be playing for the organization.
Just days away from the start of the season, Smith could play a crucial part in the team’s success and World Series push should he stay healthy and have a positive impact in the locker room, dugout, and at the plate.
(Photo: Matt Slocum/AP)
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