If you have looked at Dominic Smith, you will see a player who is wasting away. No, this is not in reference to a player who has not only lost a significant amount of weight, but also has kept it off and maintained an impressive physique. No, this is in relation to the Mets complete and utter disinterest in giving him playing time.
On June 12th, the Mets recalled Smith from Triple-A Las Vegas. He would start the ensuing four games at first base. After those four games, Wilmer Flores was activated from the disabled list, and he has since become a fixture at first base for the Mets.
In the days and weeks which have followed, Smith has yet to reach that four games in a row high water mark. Just as puzzling, Smith has played almost as many games at first base as he has in left field. More important than all of that, the former first round pick once believed to be the first baseman of the future has started in just 11 of the Mets past 21 games.
At least as it pertains to Smith, it did seem Todd Frazier landing on the disabled list would be good news. The injury created an avenue for more playing time for one player. With the Mets unwillingness to call up Jeff McNeil at the moment, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to create more playing time for Smith.
Logically, the Mets could have shifted Flores to third base while allowing Smith to play first. That’s not what’s going to happen.
In both ends of the doubleheader, Jose Reyes started at third base. In the post-game press conference after the second game, Mickey Callaway said Reyes was going to see the majority of the playing time at third base in Frazier’s absence.
Yet again, this means the only way Smith sees playing time is if one of the outfielders gets a day off or as a pinch hitter. Somehow, some way, he’s not going to see much playing time at his natural position of first base because the Mets want to play a washed up 35 year old Reyes.
You can try to wrap your head around it, but there’s no justifying playing Reyes everyday over Smith. Then again, there wasn’t any justifying leaving Smith vastly under utilized instead of him getting regular at-bats in the majors or in Triple-A.
Overall, the Mets have completely botched how they’ve chosen to handle Smith. It’s damaging his development, and it’s also devaluing a potential trade assets they had in him.
In the end, when the Mets question why other team’s prospects fare better than their own when they reach the majors, maybe they could pay careful attention to how they have prioritized playing Reyes over Smith. That may be a clue as to why their player development isn’t working as they hoped.