Dominic Smith’s value going forward

Where will Dominic Smith be come the beginning of 2020 Spring Training? It is a thought many Mets fans have on their minds as the July 31st trade deadline approaches. After a night of late inning heroics where he hit a three-run blast to put the team up, most of these Mets fans are probably also Smith fans. With the best offensive rookie in the history of the franchise blocking Smith’s way to a proper everyday role, we have to wonder if the fan-favorite will be wearing different colors come next season.

And oh how the tables have turned from the beginning of last Spring Training. The sluggish, disappointing former first-rounder whose main critique was a lack of power has now blossomed into a slugger off the bench for the 2019 Mets. It’s a feel-good story of a player making the most of his limited opportunities. Recently he’s taken an outfielder’s mitt to try once again his hand in left-field in order to get everyday playing time, but no one admits they see him out there for a career. Again, with home-run champ Pete Alonso at first, where does that leave Smith?

A few possible trade suitors have been rumored. Some names spit out have been the Red Sox, the Rockies, and the Royals. While Smith fields well at first base, his limitations at other positions make the American League seem like a good possibility, which minimizes the Rockies’ interest. They also have our old friend and lefty Daniel Murphy at first, so a trade with them seems unlikely.

The Red Sox would be an interesting scenario, as they have favorable dimensions for a left-hander (although Smith recently hit oppo-tacos in three consecutive games) and not much in the way of competition at first. Currently they are fielding righty Michael Chavis who, while only 23 and playing well, could be a platoon candidate. The Royals also have a right-handed first basemen in Cheslor Cuthbert (had to look that one up), but an out-of-contention team buying at the deadline seems unlikely. They also already have Lucas Duda somewhat platooning as well.

While Smith is narrowed down to the Red Sox; Boston is certainly not narrowed down to Smith. The market is rich with corner players, so it’s doubtful the Mets can get anyone in return for the blossoming first-rounder. It is of note that the White Sox have recently said they were planning on resigning first basemen Jose Abreu which takes one name off the list, but there are still plenty of rentals that would appeal more to contenders.

Another idea to consider is that while Smith has only had 173 PA’s this season, 14% of them have come in high-leverage situations. Most of the everyday Mets hovered around 10% in this. Many metrics undervalue the importance of later innings; it is part of the reason why bullpens are often undervalued. Smith isn’t able to get as many PA’s as other Mets hitters, but if used correctly off the bench he can be at the plate for the biggest moment in every game. The power of that is incredibly undervalued, and Smith is actually fourth on the team in WAR for hitters because of this (4th on Fangraphs and 5th on Baseball Reference).

The Mets have Smith until 2025, and that can give them potentially the best bench bat in baseball. Can they really expect to receive that kind of value in return?

13 comments for “Dominic Smith’s value going forward

  1. Mike Walczak
    July 18, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Smith is an asset to the Mets, the way he is playing now. Long term, we need another year of stats to see what he can produce.

    In a trade, he is only worth what someone is willing to pay for him. Can the Mets trade Smith and get an asset back that fills a need ? Can we get a true center fielder or catcher or starting pitcher in a trade ? Can we package him with another player to get what we need ? Example, Smith and Diaz to team XYZ to meet a need ?

    These are fascinating questions that will play out. I just like trading players for the sake of trading players and getting marginal or questionable assets in a return.

  2. Rob
    July 18, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    I know he had a few chances but should have been given the job last year instead of adrian Gonzalez. Kinda sink or swim chance. It obviously worked out now with Alonzo but maybe send him down to work at third?

    • Brendan Vachris
      July 18, 2019 at 10:32 pm

      Smith at third isn’t being considered because he throws left-handed, but I wonder with new analytics changing seemingly every facet of the game if we will ever see more lefty third basemen. Anthony Rizzo played an emergency inning at the hot corner back in 2017, which was the first time a left-hander had played third since 1997. Indeed it is one of the rarest things in baseball, as it is difficult to make throws with your throwing shoulder to that side, but maybe some day.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grCjchHFJyA

      Apologies for the Yankee video but it’s the only video I could find of a lefty 3B making a play: the slick-fielding Don Mattingly.

      • Rob
        July 21, 2019 at 7:33 am

        Just a thought. I dont see him as outfielder but showing he can hit now at this level just where to put him.

  3. NYM6986
    July 18, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    The reality is that teams who are looking to ramp up for the playoffs will never give full value during the season for July 31 deadline deals. Since the playoffs are still a long shot despite being only 5 games back of a wild card spot, shipping off expiring contracts for prospects is a sound idea. As far as those under contract and control, a much better return will come in the offseason where MLB ready players could be had in return. Unless Smith collapses, he will have great value in the off season. Can he be made into a left fielder? If yes, than plant him there the rest of the season and see what he does. Same for JD Davis at 3rd and leave McNeil in right and Conforto in center. In the meantime let’s take game one in SF tonight.

    • Brendan Vachris
      July 18, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      I agree Let’s Go Mets tonight!

  4. TexasGusCC
    July 18, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    I will copy Brian’s post on the Thursday Catch-All thread because it pertains to this topic and I want to disagree with Harper’s writing:

    From John Harper at SNY on Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto:

    “Oh, there’s no doubt Smith would bring back more than Conforto,” an executive of an NL East team told me Wednesday. “(Contractual) control is a big part of it, but our scouts think Smith will be a more consistent hitter. You can make the case that Conforto still has a higher ceiling, but he hasn’t shown that he can perform at a high level with any real sustainability, and he’s relatively deep into his career now.

    “Smith is just a really solid hitter with decent pop, and he gives you some versatility because he’s an above-average first baseman who looks like he can a play an adequate left field.”
    —————————————————–
    Although I must respect the executive’s position and I rarely disagree with officials in decision making positions (unless they work for the Mets, LOL), I disagree here. While Smith has control, Conforto has the upside of playing outfield positions well, and for as wonderful as we have heard Smith is at first base, I haven’t seen proof. He looks smooth, and is “lefty flashy”, but I don’t see range nor do I see aptitude. He is happier and more alert mentally now that the sleep apnea has been solved, but if anyone wants to give a package for a first baseman, I’m all ears. A few weeks back, I considered a trade for Mallex Smith using Lowrie and Smith, but then Lowrie had another setback.

    • July 18, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      Ah, Mallex Smith – the Herpes of the Mets360 comment community.

      It’s like the fascination with lefty relievers – it’s a belief in an idea over the actual individual. Sure, the Mets could use a center fielder. But do they really need Herpes?

      Herpes has played parts of four seasons in the majors and here are his OPS+ numbers in those years: 83, 87, 114, 82. And last year’s outlier came with a .366 BABIP. It’s Juan Lagares all over again. Sure, Lagares looked okay with a .341 BABIP back in 2014. But as we’ve seen in the five years since then – that’s not who he is as a hitter.

      Absolutely, you can say that Smith has an unsustainable .343 BABIP now — still 23 points lower than Herpes’ mark last year — but he has a 142 OPS+. It’s more than singles falling in for Dom.

      I’m 100% in favor of finding out what Dom’s trade value is in the offseason. If what Harper’s source says is true, it’s possible we could get something worthwhile for him. But if the Mets do their due diligence, talk to all of the other 29 teams, and the best offer is Herpes, well then he’s worth more to the Mets than the other teams out there.

      I’ll make a promise today. If the Mets trade Dom for Herpes – much less throwing in another player, too! – I will write a post about how terrible this move is and end it by saying it’s the last post that will ever appear at Mets360 because I’m switching my allegiance to the Rays and will rebrand the site as Rays360.

      • Chris F
        July 18, 2019 at 6:32 pm

        you mean ExposRays360, right? 😉

        4 gold stars for best post of the 2019 season.

      • TexasGusCC
        July 18, 2019 at 7:43 pm

        That’s if you have the expectation that Smith will continue at a 142 OPS+ rate, and I don’t. Nothing in his past, has shown that this is a 142 OPS+ hitter. Combine that with decent defense – at best – at first base and I believe a speedster with great defense at a premium position and an ok bat is worth more than a player that looks to be overachieving his past history and plays a decent defense at the easiest position to play on the ball field.

        And I’d love to know what everyone else thinks, but I get the impression that John Harper – who writes for SNY, coincidently – is altering the truth so I can’t believe his column. Sorry future Rays fan.

        I hope we can trade Smith before midnight hits and his value is no higher than a LOOGY.

        • July 18, 2019 at 8:53 pm

          I don’t know why you would think that my expectation is that Smith will continue to be a 142 OPS+ hitter when I specifically said that his current BABIP was unsustainable.

          It’s almost as confusing as why you think Herpes will reproduce his 2018 BABIP.

          You know what’s really baffling, though? You saying that Herpes provides great defense. In roughly half a season’s worth of playing time in CF this year, he has a (-6) DRS and a (-8.5) UZR. Of the 17 CFers with enough innings to qualify, he’s tied for 15th in DRS and he’s 16th in UZR.

          It seems you have a type. After years of stumping for Billy Hamilton, your newest crush is Herpes. You like fast guys in CF. Herpes uses his speed really well in the offensive part of the game – his baserunning is the only thing keeping him from being sub-replacement level. But it’s not translating on the defensive side of things. While this is his worst performance defensively so far, his other years were slightly above average, nothing remotely like a Byron Buxton or 2013-14 Juan Lagares.

          • TexasGusCC
            July 18, 2019 at 11:44 pm

            I wasn’t crushing on Herpes, my point was to get a player like him, not specifically him. Yes, I love speed and liked Hamilton, but sometimes we strike out. I also liked Puig when he was down, wanted Desmond, and like to buy low on talent. Further, I like to sell high and Dom Smith is a very sellable player to me. He plays an easy position to fill, has never been a great hitter, and I feel is playing over his head. What can I say? I’m the anti-Alderson. I love speed, love fundamentals and moving runners along, and will not sit around waiting for three run homers.

  5. Mike Walczak
    July 19, 2019 at 11:14 am

    OK, I am guilty.

    http://mets360.com/?p=30225

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