The Mets have a load of candidates for the inaugural season of NL DH play. Following is a listing of players who are likely to be on the roster opening day, or in some cases on the so-called taxi squad, whose most productive position at this point in their careers is probably DH. They are more or less ranked in order of expected offensive production for the upcoming season, with the two who were best last year at the top.
1…J.D. Davis split his time mostly between left field and third base last year. He assembled an impressive slash line of .307/.369/.527. He probably had the most productive offensive season in 2019 of any Met not named Pete Alonso or Jeff McNeill. He is right in the midst of his prime years at age 27. However Davis is a distinct liability in the field. Last year he posted a DRS figure of -11 in the outfield, and -9 at third base. Although he has a decent arm (he pitched some in college), his throws to first from 3b were often delivered with a funky motion and a slow release. Davis should see plenty of action this year, sometimes at DH, sometimes in the field, and when he is in the field he’ll be a prime candidate to be replaced by a better fielder late in the game when the Mets are ahead.
2…Dominic Smith is a natural first baseman, but he will see only spot service at that position with Alonso having nailed down that position last year. Smith also played some at left field last year. It was at the plate where Smith shined in 2019. The 25 year old broke out with a .282/.355/.525 line last year, ensuring he will get lots of playing time this year, some at DH. Somewhat surprisingly, Smith was below average in the field at 1b last year, with a DRS at that position of minus three. That was kind of a small sample with Alonso being a fixture at first. In left field, Smith posted a minus 8 DRS, he did seem to improve some defensively in the pasture as the season progressed.
3…Yoenis Cespedes is an enigma. He has power, (31 homers back in 2016, his last full season), but he has not played in two years due to injuries, specifically heel spurs followed by ankle fractures. It’s anybody’s guess if he will be able to play in the field by season’s end, let alone the start of the year. So he is a natural DH candidate in the crowded pool of DHers. The 34 year old outfielder played 35 games back in 2018, and posted a -1 DRS. Two years of rust, surgically repaired lower leg extremities, and father time catching up to him are causes for concern.
4…Robinson Cano is an aging veteran (37) acquired on GM Brodie Van Wagenen’s watch. He played 107 games last year and put up a mediocre slash line of .256/.37/.428. At second base he posted a negative six DRS. Is he the best second baseman on the team? No, not as long as Jeff McNeil suits up. Is he going to play most of the time at 2b? Probably, although he does not deserve it, and he will likely see at least some action at DH.
5…Jed Lowrie was injured for most of 2019. He drew a walk for the Mets in nine games played in 2019, exclusively as a pinch-hitter, at the end of the season. The result was an incredibly feeble .000/.125/.000 slash line. The 36 year old second baseman was not a good fielder in 2018 with a DRS of -5, and he reported to spring training sporting a big leg brace. None of this bodes well for any kind significant contribution this season.
6…Matt Adams will likely start the season on the taxi squad, he toiled for the Nats in 2019 and smacked 20 homers in 111 games. He was signed to a minor league contract during the offseason. He actually put up a positive DRS of four at 1b, a position the Mets were well stocked at. He’ll turn 32 during the season, and unless injuries pile up for the Mets he may not see action with the Mets this year.
7… Melky Cabrera is another player of the type that is far too numerous on the list, a slow, aging, poor fielding player who profiles best as a DH. Cabrera got into 133 games for the Pirates last year, and slashed .280/.313/.399. Not horrible, but that is a low SLG figure for a potential DH. The outfielder had a -15 DRS last year, ugh. He too is likely destined for the taxi squad.
There are lots of positions on an MLB team where it is significant to have good depth. DH is probably the position where depth is least important.