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Under-the-radar Mets: These 5 unheralded players could make 2024 roster push

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — With the Mets one month removed from Opening Day, there are still a few gaps that need to be filled on the Mets roster.

An injury to Kodai Senga has already opened the door in the starting rotation and any further absences could provide opportunity down the depth chart.

With the regular season rapidly approaching, here are five under-the-radar Mets who could improve their stature and perhaps crack the Opening Day roster:

Austin Adams

New York Mets pitcher Austin Adams warms-up in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Clover Park on Feb. 25, 2024, in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
New York Mets pitcher Austin Adams warms-up in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Clover Park on Feb. 25, 2024, in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Age: 32

Position: Relief pitcher

Status: Non-roster invitee

Before the whole Mets team came together for spring training in mid-February, manager Carlos Mendoza said that he expected there to be a competition for the last one or two spots in the bullpen. That discussion has been complicated by Shintaro Fujinami's return to Japan as he deals with a personal matter and tries to resolve a Visa issue.

While the Mets are paying Fujinami $3.35 million this year, he is one of the only relief options with options remaining.

Adams, who was signed in late November then cleared waivers, could stand to benefit from a strong spring. He has appeared to master the Triple-A level, where he struck out 20 in 12⅔ innings last season, while he was posted a 5.71 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 17⅓ innings with the Diamondbacks in 2023. He's thrown one shutout inning this spring.

Jose Butto

New York Mets starting pitcher Jose Butto (70) gets a visit to the mound in the second inning on Feb. 25, 2024, against the Houston Astros at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
New York Mets starting pitcher Jose Butto (70) gets a visit to the mound in the second inning on Feb. 25, 2024, against the Houston Astros at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Age: 25

Position: Starting pitcher

Status: 40-man roster

After scattering three hits across two scoreless innings against the Astros, Butto expressed a desire to pitch in the big leagues in any fashion and is also open to a relief opportunity.

Butto could also be competing for the No. 5 spot in the Mets' rotation following Senga's shoulder injury. The 25-year-old Venezuelan has refined his arsenal to include a sinker and slider with more lateral movement ahead of the 2024 season.

Last season, Butto finished with a 3.64 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in nine appearances with the Mets. He was his strongest down the stretch in September, when he struck out 28 in 27⅓ innings with a 3.21 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.

Max Kranick

New York Mets starting pitcher Max Kranick (32) pitches against the Washington Nationals in the first inning on Feb. 26, 2024, at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla.
New York Mets starting pitcher Max Kranick (32) pitches against the Washington Nationals in the first inning on Feb. 26, 2024, at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Age: 26

Position: Starting pitcher

Status: 40-man roster

Kranick might have seemed destined to find himself in Triple-A or elsewhere after being claimed off waivers by the Mets in January, but the right-hander could also emerge in the competition for the final rotation spot this spring.

More: Can Max Kranick make a case to crack the Mets' rotation?

The lifelong Mets fan is entering his first full season coming off Tommy John surgery, and Mendoza was impressed by Kranick's conviction in his first start — two shutout innings with two strikeouts against the Nationals on Monday.

Kranick made 11 major-league appearances for the Pirates across 2021 and 2022. With Triple-A Indianapolis last season, Kranick posted a 2.76 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in seven starts.

Nate Lavender

New York Mets pitcher Nate Lavender (94) poses for a photo during media day.
New York Mets pitcher Nate Lavender (94) poses for a photo during media day.

Age: 24

Position: Relief pitcher

Status: Non-roster invitee

It has only been two Grapefruit League appearances, but the 24-year-old left-hander is already making a strong impression. In two innings, Lavender has struck out four while not yielding any hits or walks.

Lavender's arsenal does not pop off the page. His fastball lingers in the low-90s, but the deception in his delivery, which includes a hesitation move, and his conviction keeps hitters off balance.

Lavender wasn't on the Mets' top prospect list after last season, but he began to leave an impression in the minor leagues in 2023, posting a 2.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 54⅓ innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He will need to be added to the Mets' 40-man roster before the end of the season to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

Trayce Thompson

New York Mets left fielder Trayce Thompson (43) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a grand slam against the Washington Nationals in the third inning on Feb. 26, 2024, at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla.
New York Mets left fielder Trayce Thompson (43) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a grand slam against the Washington Nationals in the third inning on Feb. 26, 2024, at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Age: 33

Position: Outfielder

Status: Non-roster invitee

Trayce Thompson might be playing in the Grapefruit League for the first time in his 15-year baseball career, but the former second round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft is hoping that a change in scenery can yield a resurgence.

The outfielder is coming off his worst season in the big leagues as he posted a .163/.285/.294 slash line across stops with the Dodgers and White Sox in 2023. He only provided six home runs and 17 RBI in 72 games.

It will take a special performance for Thompson to crack the Mets' outfield mix, which includes Brandon Nimmo, Harrison Bader, Starling Marte, DJ Stewart and Tyrone Taylor, but the 33-year-old is off to a strong start. He belted a grand slam in his spring debut and added a solo home run on Wednesday. He now has four hits and six RBI in seven at-bats.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NY Mets surprise players who could push to make 2024 roster