A number of prospects enjoyed success right away upon arrival to the big leagues last season, but Dominic Smith was not among them. He posted just a 73 wRC+ in 49 games, although he was pretty unlucky on balls in play (.218 BABIP). The power was the one positive, which is surprising given that Smith has long been thought of as a hit-over-power first baseman. However, he did steadily increase his home-run totals on the farm in recent years, and is still just 22 years old, so perhaps that per-game power production wasn't so fluky. While Smith did see a sizable jump in strikeout rate following his promotion to the majors, the minor-league track record suggests he will cut that down with more exposure to big-league arms. Smith isn't guaranteed a major-league roster spot out of camp, as new acquisition Adrian Gonzalez may be given the starting job, but he's still an intriguing player in dynasty settings.
Smith said last week that he now checks in at 224 pounds, about 30 less than he weighed at the end of the 2017 season, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. "I feel more athletic than I've ever been," Smith said. "In spring training, I've always looked the part, but as far as my mobility and loosening up some hips and being more flexible, more agile as an athlete, I feel like this is the most advanced I've been for sure in my career." After slashing a disappointing .198/.262/.395 across 183 plate appearances for the Mets upon being promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas last August, Smith may have felt some pressure to transform his body with the organization giving him no assurances that he would open the 2018 campaign in the big leagues. The 22-year-old is slated to battle veteran Adrian Gonzalez for the everyday first base gig during the spring and would likely report to Las Vegas if he fails to win the starting job.
Smith will have to compete for the Mets' starting job at first base in spring training, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. "He didn't win it in September, let's put it that way," general manager Sandy Alderson said. This is an odd thing to say about a cornerstone player who was just getting his feet wet in the majors at the end of last season as a 22-year-old. He hit .220/.304/.450 with six home runs and a 30.4 percent strikeout rate in 100 at-bats from Sept. 1 through Oct. 1. It is understandable that the Mets want to find at-bats for Wilmer Flores, who is coming off a year when he slashed .271/.307/.488 with 18 home runs in 362 plate appearances, but third base and second base seem like better places to try to work him in. As Puma went on to say, this could be a motivational tactic aimed at getting Smith to show up to camp in great shape. He is still the clear leading candidate to open the year as the Mets' starting first baseman, but we now know that he is not a lock to open the year in that role.
Smith is not in the lineup against the Braves on Wednesday, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports. Smith will head to the bench after going 0-for-3 with a walk during Tuesday's affair, in favor of Kevin Plawecki, who will man first base during the series finale. Over the last 10 games, Smith is hitting just .086/.135/.086 with three singles and 14 strikeouts.
Smith is out of the lineup Wednesday against the Cubs. Smith heads to the bench following 11 straight starts, hitting .262/.326/.476 with two home runs and eight RBI during that span. In his place, Matt Reynolds gets the nod at first base.
Smith went 2-for-5 with a solo homer and an RBI single Sunday in the Mets' 10-5 loss to the Reds. It was the rookie's second homer of the month and fifth since his debut, and Smith is riding a five-game hit streak. The accompanying numbers, however, aren't pretty, as he's .210/.257/.390 in his first taste of big-league action (113 plate appearances). His leash will remain long as the Mets let him adjust to a full-time big-league role he'll occupy to start next season.