Mets officials must decide on a final 25-man roster by Sunday afternoon.
According to multiple reports Wednesday morning, it was still not determined whether Jeurys Familia (who has since been suspended), Juan Lagares (oblique strain), Steven Matz (sore elbow) or Michael Conforto (depending on Lagares) will be on the Opening Day roster.
"Due to some injuries and everything that always complicates it, now we got some tougher decisions to make," Mets manager Terry Collins said Tuesday. "We're very lucky we have some depth on our club to fill in those holes."
Josh Smoker is seemingly a lock to join Addison Reed, Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins and Hansel Robles in the Opening Day bullpen. And now that we know Jeurys Familia will miss the season's first 15 games for his off-season domestic violence issue, one of Rafael Montero or Josh Edgin should be added to the above list of relievers.
Montero (50) throws against the Nationals at Nationals Park. (Brad Mills, USA Today Sports)
In previous seasons, the Mets liked having Montero stashed in Triple-A for a big-league emergency, plus Edgin has to pass through waivers before going to the minor leagues, so I would think Edgin has the edge. However, Montero recently told Deportivo 101 that he's already been told he will make the final cut. If he's right, it could be that the front office sees no risk in exposing Edgin to waivers, while also feeling they need to acknowledge Montero for his hard work and outstanding spring. The kid has saved his career and it would be smart to reward him for that...
Lagares strained an oblique Saturday. He was examined Monday and told reporters and teammates the next day that, though his initial MRI showed inflammation, he felt good and expected to be ready for Opening Day. He ran Wednesday and plans to hit Thursday, so we'll know more as the week goes on. That said, it's an oblique, which are notorious for popping up again and again, even if the player proclaims himself 'good to go,' as Lagares did today.
In the event Lagares begins the season on the disabled list, Conforto will almost certainly replace him on the 25-man roster and be the team's fourth outfielder. However, if Lagares is healthy, Conforto is expected to be sent to Triple-A, where he'll play every day in right field and hit against both left-handed and right-handed pitching.
Conforto (30) hits during the third inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
The decision to include Lagares or Conforto may also dictate whether they Mets carry an eighth reliever or bench player Ty Kelly, who would have to be added to the 40-man roster.
Meanwhile, Matz did long-toss earlier this week and reported no pain the next day. According to Collins, the Mets want to see him throw at least 80 pitches off a mound during a bullpen session before committing to him as part of the opening week rotation.
In the event Matz is able to make his first start, Seth Lugo is expected to be in the bullpen, while Zack Wheeler remains in extended spring training. However, if Matz can't go, the team will reportedly replace him with Lugo or Wheeler, while adding a reliever (likely whomever was passed over in the Familia decision) to the roster to replace Lugo.
Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Wheeler, all of whom are competing for a spot on the roster (Credit: USA Today Sports)
It's a delicate situation because, according to a league source, Matz can be retroactively put on the newly-created 10-day disabled list, meaning he could start the season on the DL and still be available six days later to pitch April 9.
In other words, even if he looks strong and on the right track later this week in St. Lucie, I don't know why the Mets wouldn't just use this opportunity to put Matz on the DL and carry the extra reliever through the first five games of the season. Then when Matz is activated for April 9, demote the extra player that was occupying his roster spot.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...