What does Dominic Smith's Mets future hold?

Dominic Smith treated art, on bases hands on helmet 2021
Dominic Smith treated art, on bases hands on helmet 2021

Dominic Smith's Mets career has been a wild ride.

Selected out of Junipero Serra High School in California with the No. 11 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, Smith made his Mets debut in 2017 and mostly struggled in a brief taste -- hitting just .198/.262/.395 but clubbing nine home runs in 49 games along the way.

In 2018, Smith continued to have a rough go of it, hitting only .224/.255/.420 with five homers in 56 games.

Long thought of as the Mets' future at first base, Smith lost that title to minor leaguer Peter (don't call him Pete yet) Alonso during the 2018 season, and was usurped when Alonso (who was then going by the first name Pete) was the Mets' Opening Day first baseman in 2019.

Alonso went off that year, hitting an MLB rookie record 53 home runs and cementing himself as the Mets' first baseman.

But Smith emerged that year, too.

In 89 games in 2019, Smith slashed .282/.355/.525 with 11 homers and 10 doubles in 89 games while continuing to get acclimated to playing left field -- a position switch that was forced by the rise of Alonso.

Then in the shortened 2020 season, with the DH in the National League, Smith had a truly phenomenal year, hitting .316/.377/.616 with 10 homers and 21 doubles in just 50 games.

New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (2) reacts after hitting a staple against the San Francisco Giants during the ninth inning at Oracle Park.
New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (2) reacts after hitting a staple against the San Francisco Giants during the ninth inning at Oracle Park.

After 2020, it seemed that -- with the DH soon coming full-time to the NL, which would allow Smith to no longer have to play left field -- the Mets would have two young impact players to rely on.

But Smith regressed badly in 2021 in what was his first opportunity to play a full season, slashing just .244/.304/.363 with 11 homers in 493 plate appearances over 145 games.

The hope was that 2021 was an aberration, but Smith's bat took another downturn in 2022, when he hit .194/.276/.284 with zero home runs in 152 plate appearances over 58 games.

Smith's massive struggles in 2022 contributed to the Mets' DH spot being in disarray until the trade deadline, and eventually led to his demotion to Triple-A Syracuse.

In just two years, Smith had gone from looking like a core piece of the Mets' future to an afterthought. And his success in 139 games spanning 2019 and 2020 seemed like an aberration.

Now, it's time for the Mets to make a decision on Smith's future.

As the Mets decide, it's important to point out that Smith's recent struggles don't appear to be a result of bad luck. And when you add those poor results to the ones he put up early in his career, you're basically left with a small 2019 and 2020 sample size that seems like an outlier.

Aug 8, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (2) against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 8, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (2) against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Smith's advanced numbers from 2021 show that he was well below average when it came to chase rate, walk rate, whiff percentage, and barrel percentage, and below average in average exit velocity, hard hit percentage, xwOBA, xSLG, and strikeout rate.

His defensive numbers in the outfield were among the worst in baseball, which is something that should not be blamed on Smith. He was put in a position that didn't suit him and tried his best. But he's not an outfield option going forward.

The above means that if Smith is on the Mets, he's basically a DH or a bench player. So, should they keep him?

2023 is Smith's second-to-last year of arbitration, and he is projected to make roughly $4 million.

It's hard to see the Mets being willing to pay that much to a player who is as limited as Smith is positionally (especially with Alonso at first base), and who has struggled so badly over the last two seasons.

Add to that the fact that the Mets exercised their player option on Daniel Vogelbach -- a lefty swinging DH option who has serious limitations in the field and on the bases -- and the writing appears to be on the wall when it comes to Smith's Mets future.

Barring something strange happening, 2022 will very likely be the end of the road for Smith as a Met. And as unfortunate as it is after Smith seemed like such a big piece of the future just a few years ago, the Mets will be making the right call by moving on.