Mets top prospect 1B Peter Alonso has repeatedly said he wants to be on the team's Opening Day roster when camp breaks in March. But, as the team introduced veteran super-utility man Jed Lowrie at Citi Field on Wednesday, we're reminded of how much competition Alonso will have to reach that goal.
In what looked like a clear path to start at first in the beginning of the offseason, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has brought in Lowrie and J.D. Davis to create a jam for Alonso. Even Todd Frazier could make the shift to first with Jeff McNeil virtually kicked out of second base after the Robinson Cano trade.
So what do all these moves mean for the 24-year-old, who absolutely raked in the minors last season? Van Wagenen says the added pressure should provide even more motivation for Alonso.
"In some ways I hope that it puts more pressure and creates more excitement and motivation for Peter," Van Wagenen told SNY's Andy Martino in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview at the Lowrie press conference. "If any of you guys have had a chance to talk to him, he's an incredibly hard worker and he wants to drive himself to be the best. He's got an opportunity to do that at Spring Training."
However, Van Wagenen didn't leave out the prospect of Davis stealing the spot, saying he also "accomplished great things in the minor leagues as well."
It would make sense for Alonso to start the year in Triple-A Syracuse, as MLB's service time rules would give the Mets another year of team control on him. But Van Wagenen has said in the past he could win the starting role outright if he has a tremendous spring.
This is why Van Wagenen and the Mets are looking forward to Spring Training, as internal competition will immediately heighten spirits in the infield. Between established veterans like Cano and Frazier and hungry youngster in Alonso, it will be a battle in Port St. Lucie.
And Van Wagenen knows the best options for the team's Opening Day roster will show themselves at the end of the day.
"So I think the combination of these guys is that they can drive each other, they have veteran guys that can help develop them and help teach them how to play the game the right way. But our goal is to go north with the best 25 guys we have at that point in time."