Mickey Callaway was asked Tuesday at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas if Jeff McNeil could potentially push Todd Frazier to become the starter at third base entering the season, His answer was succinct.
"Frazier is our starter at third base right now," Callaway told reporters. "As we stand here today, Todd Frazier is going to be standing at third base."
Callaway added that McNeil will be in the lineup "often," and that he feels Frazier and McNeil can both play first base "in a pinch."
In a bit of a surprise, Callaway said he believes McNeil -- who played three games at shortstop last season for Double-A Binghamton -- can be the backup shortstop in 2019.
McNeil, 27, hit .329/.381/.471 with three homers, six triples, and 11 doubles in 63 games for the Mets last season during what was his first taste of the majors. He played 54 games at second base and four at third base.
Frazier, 32, hit .213/.303/.390 with 18 homers and 18 doubles in 115 games. He is entering the second and final year of the two-year contract he signed last offseason.
Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Callaway could be echoing the sentiments of Brodie Van Wagenen and the front office when it comes to the plan for McNeil in 2019 or he could be saying the above on his own. But if McNeil proves himself to be a better option than Frazier to start at third base, the conventional wisdom has to be that he'll supplant him.
Van Wagenen has made it a point this offseason to stress winning games over all else, even if it means forgoing a year of team control in order to have Peter Alonso be the team's Opening Day first baseman.
One would think the above sentiment will also carry the day when it comes to playing time. In the best case scenario, though, Frazier is an asset for the Mets in 2019, allowing McNeil to play all over the place.
McNeil has experience at all four infield positions and all three outfield positions, so his versatility should give the Mets a huge boost in 2019 -- whether he's a starting player or not.