Dominic Smith didn’t have the kind of year he needed in 2021. In the final weeks of the season, he was essentially benched by the New York Mets.
Smith is one of the more obvious business candidates on the list. A supernatural outfielder with a blocked first base, even the potential of a DH in the National League could get him out of New York. Pete Alonso won’t become a full-time DH and the extra bat could provide the club with a place to put Robinson Cano on a regular basis.
Trading Smith is practically a must for the Mets this winter. However, a ghostly question haunts us:
What if the Mets trade Dominic Smith and he becomes a star elsewhere?
You can’t play it safe like this all the time. Hanging on to a player for too long, making sure they develop late, can backfire. You have to use your intuition and your own guesses about what will happen with a player moving forward.
Smith has shown the Mets both the good and the terrible since his major league debut. If they don’t see him as a candidate for the 2022 roster in any capacity, it’s important to find a team that does.
It is quite remarkable that Smith is still only 26 years old. He’s been with the squad to some extent since 2017 and yet this past year was the first to include more than 200 home plate appearances.
The tools have always been there for Smith. In the minors, he was a .300 hitter with good defensive skills. He exhibited it in the shortened 2020 campaign and then added some good pop. His 10 homers and 21 doubles in just 199 trips to plate gave him a 0.616 slugging percentage during the year. Compared to its Lifetime Hit Percentage of just 0.441, this was a major outlier compared to anything we’ve seen.
As a professional, Smith has never hit more than 16 home runs in any given season. This happened in 2017 in Triple-A when he made it in 500 trips to the plate. A little low for a first baseman, it was acceptable due to the exceptional slash line of .330 / .386 / .519.
The type of hitter Smith will eventually become seems to fluctuate. At first, I never thought he would have a potential of 25 home runs. He reminded me too much of James Loney or Doug Mientkiewicz in their heyday, where home runs are secondary to putting the ball into play and receiving a hit. On a list with a lot of power, this can work. That’s why the Mets stayed with Smith and didn’t sell him to the top bidder.
Now with 2020 and 2021 in the rearview mirror, Smith has returned to the great unknown. Is he able to repeat his 2020 season or was it just two warm months?
Smith’s business value took one on the chin last season. Buying it during the winter might prove to be a bit more difficult. A year closer to free agency and with growing doubts, the Mets must carefully consider whether or not they are getting a fair return as a small voice in the back of their heads continues to speak and say. wonder if there is a chance he will become the next guy to improve after leaving the organization.