At one point, Dom Smith was the first baseman of the future for the Mets. Now that mantle has been passed to Pete Alonso, but Smith isn't going down without a fight.
He's been hitting well this spring, going 1-for-3 Sunday with an RBI to raise his average to .423. And if Alonso winds up heading north with the team following spring training, Smith sees a possible path for him to go along for the ride as well: playing the outfield.
"I love it," Smith said, according to Anthony Reiber of Newsday. "I'm all in for it. It's something I hope they do. It would add flexibility and would just make our team better."
Smith played 13 games in left field for the Mets last season, as the organization tried to tap into their one-time touted prospect's versatility. The 23-year-old entered camp this year in exemplary shape, making a transition to the outfield more attainable.
Obviously, Smith's goal would be to play first base, but it's already a crowded infield situation. However, injuries to Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie have created an opening at third, where Jeff McNeil -- orginially set to play outfield in 2019 -- might have to slide in. Other infield options include J.D. Davis and Adeiny Hecchavaria.
The depth is somewhat more scant in the outfield. Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are locked in as starters, with Keon Broxton and Juan Lagares offering right-handed hitting options. Manager Mickey Callaway indicated he wouldn't be afraid to stack lefties in his lineup, which was more good news for Smith. Yoenis Cespedes is unlikely to return during the first half of the season, although he'll begin a throwing program Monday.
Playing Smith in the outfield would also allow the Mets to start Alonso at first immediately. But by keeping him in the Minor Leagues for a few weeks to start the season, the club will gain an extra year of control over their top prospect. If the Mets ultimately decide the incentives of demoting Alonso outweigh the benefits of promoting him, then all signs point toward Smith starting Opening Day at first base.
Smith has mainly been inconsistent since his debut in 2017. He has a .210 average with 14 homers and 37 RBIs over 332 career plate appearances.
His play this spring, however, is indicative of the prospect status he once received. It also might mean he'll be seeing more time in the outfield in 2019.