Dominic Smith’s big night lifts the Mets to win over the Phillies

NEW YORK — You don’t need a degree in numerical analysis or linear algebra to understand the current situation facing the Mets. When they began their 10-6 victory over the Phillies on Sunday night at Citi Field, the Mets had 28 players on their active roster. Before Monday’s game, they (and every other major league team) must reduce their roster size to 26.
Manager Buck Showalter has said he intends to cut a pitcher and a position player. The pitcher is pretty obvious: Yoan Lopez, who has been in and out of the Minors several times this season, was already packing a suitcase after the game. The position player is less clear. He could be veteran Robinson Cano, despite the tens of millions left on his contract. He could be a bench hitter with minor league options available, like Luis Guillorme or JD Davis.
It could also be Dominic Smith, a prospect who seemed much more logical before he racked up four hits and three RBIs in the final win over the Phillies. Throughout April, Smith struggled to produce in limited playing time. On Sunday, he gave the Mets a broad look at his potential on the eve of what Showalter called a “tough” decision.
“Just a reminder of what kind of collaborator you can be,” Showalter said.
In one of his sporadic starts at first base, Smith singled and scored off Zach Eflin in the second inning, hit a game-tying double in the fourth inning, then singled in two more runs in the fifth. He went 4-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs, accounting for much of the Mets’ offense to support a less-than-classic version of Max Scherzer.
Statistically, it was one of Smith’s most productive games over the past two seasons, allowing the Mets to win their franchise-record seventh straight series to open the year. Nor could it have come at a more opportune time.
Although the Mets haven’t spoken publicly about a possible demotion of Smith, it’s clear his roster spot is, or was, at risk. Like Guillorme and Davis, Smith has an accessible minor league option, which means New York wouldn’t risk losing him by sending him to Triple-A Syracuse. Unlike Guillorme, who can play multiple defensive positions, including shortstop, and Davis, who is a powerful right-handed hitter, Smith possesses a skill set that mirrors Cano’s. Smith also entered Sunday’s game struggling in a similar fashion:
Canyon: .195/.233/.268, 1 hour, 50 OPS+, 53 wRC+
Blacksmith: .167/.295/.194, 0 FC, 50 OPS+, 64 wRC+
However, by Sunday night, Smith had raised his cut line to .250/.354/.300, turning his potential demotion into a potential public relations nightmare. At this point, keeping Cano over Smith would be hard to justify outside of the uncomfortable truth that the former is still owed $40.5 million, while the latter has a $3.95 million arbitration agreement. Instead, demoting Guillorme would make the Mets a worse defensive team. Demoting Davis would decrease his potency against left-handed pitching.
That leaves Smith or Canó, Canó or Smith.
“To be honest, I haven’t really thought about it,” Smith said, acknowledging that he only had a brief conversation about the situation with Showalter last week. “I haven’t really been on social media too much. It is what it is. It’s just the business of baseball, and one of those things that’s out of my control again. All I can do is do what I did tonight, which is help the team win.”
At least among most fans, the fashionable move would be to cut Cano, who came to the Mets in an unpopular trade before the 2019 season, struggled that year, bounced back in 2020 and then missed the entire season. 21 while fulfilling a performance. Boosting drug suspension. The risk of letting Cano go free is that he could get hooked elsewhere (perhaps with the Yankees, or with a rival in the NL East) and return to form under someone else’s watch. Previous versions of the Mets have been guilty of holding on to unproductive veterans for precisely that reason.
The current regime has been outspoken about its desire to build the best list possible, which theoretically means regardless of sunk costs.
On Sunday, Smith proved pretty emphatically that the Mets’ best roster surely includes him.
“It’s definitely going to be a very emotional day no matter who it is, and it’s going to be something to watch,” Smith said. “I think this team has really grown to love each other and love playing with each other. Tomorrow, it will be interesting.

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