MIAMI — It’s moving and shaking season in Major League Baseball, and on Friday the Mets’ clubhouse got a minor pre-deadline earthquake.
Four days ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline, the Mets welcomed Tyler Naquin to the clubhouse. But, as manager Buck Showalter has been saying for weeks, an addition also means some subtraction.
To make room for Naquin, the Mets designated Travis Jankowski for assignment. The team’s consummate dirt dog all season, Jankowski was the man Showalter called on whenever he needed a pinch runner or late-game defensive substitution in the outfield. Jankowski started his Mets career with nine hits in his first 25 at-bats but since then has gone 0-for-29. Showalter was asked about having that difficult conversation with Jankowski, who now has seven days to either be traded or claimed off waivers.
“I have a soft spot for anyone who’s wearing our uniform,” the veteran manager said. “In the next 72 hours we’ll have a better idea of what direction his career and life takes. We hope it’s with us again. He made some good contributions, but we’re also excited about Tyler.”
Naquin met his new teammates and took his first round of batting practice in Mets’ gear. He was not in the starting lineup on Friday but was available to come off the bench.
“It’s another opportunity to be on a good ball club,” said Naquin, who was watching TV when he had to scramble, pack everything up, and report to his new employer. “It’s fun, exciting news. It’s been a whirlwind for the last couple hours. It was definitely out of the blue.”
The elephant in the room is Eduardo Escobar and his .668 OPS in a league where the average is .708. Adding another outfielder means Jeff McNeil probably sees very little time out there anymore, allowing Luis Guillorme to continue his breakout season with consistent reps at third base. Guillorme has played a lot of second base with McNeil in the outfield, leaving Escobar in the lineup as the everyday third baseman. In theory, the Mets can now give Escobar the amount of playing time a .668 OPS deserves.
“I think because of the versatility of Jeff, the versatility of Luis, and the versatility, quite frankly, of Escobar, it allows us to move some pieces around,” Showalter said. “It’s not just pure matchups, but also when somebody needs a day. I’ll make use of the skills of our players and see what fits best that night for our team.”
SMITH TO THE IL
Drew Smith has a right lat strain, and Billy Eppler is a man in need of some relief help.
Outside of the veteran big three — Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino and Seth Lugo — Smith has been the Mets’ most reliable reliever. But now that he’s on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to July 25), the need only intensifies. Showalter said he hopes the injury is not long term, and he will be back this season, but the team also wants to be careful.
“I know it’s more than two weeks,” Showalter diagnosed. “He was just playing catch in Jeremy [Hefner’s] program and said that it was really tight. When he got the imaging, it showed up to be a little worse than we had hoped.”
OTHER BULLPEN UPDATES
With Smith on the IL, plus another roster move that came down on Friday, the Mets are actually without two of their bullpen arms from earlier in the week. David Peterson was also optioned to Triple-A. He was last seen giving up two quick runs to the Yankees in the Subway Series finale when Showalter inserted him in an unfamiliar, eighth inning spot on two days’ rest.
The minor-league demotion will allow Peterson to make a start on Sunday for Syracuse, which sets him up to come back and start one of the games in the Mets’ doubleheader on Saturday, Aug. 6.
The Smith and Peterson replacements are lefty reliever Sam Clay — a waiver pickup hanging out in Triple-A — and Stephen Nogosek, the mustached man who only allowed one run in 12.2 innings during his brief spell on the major league roster earlier this year.
Trevor May is scheduled to throw in back-to-back rehab games on Saturday and Sunday for Syracuse. Showalter thinks he could rejoin the Mets on Wednesday. Whenever the team gets Tylor Megill back from his shoulder injury, Showalter expects him to work as a reliever. Megill was shut down after his last big-league appearance on June 16 and has not made any minor league rehab outings yet.
DEGROM IN D.C.
Jacob deGrom is supposed to throw on Tuesday. Where that will take place is not set in stone, but everyone even loosely affiliated with the Mets is hoping it’s against the Nationals in D.C.
“We’ll see how things go between now and then,” said Showalter, who is still operating under the idea that the next time deGrom pitches in a professional game, it will be in the majors. “He’s on schedule to make a start next week.”
The man himself was at loanDepot Park on Friday, where he had a locker in the visitors clubhouse, watched the Mets beat the Marlins from the dugout and played catch before the game. Showalter also shared that he is staying at the team hotel. The star pitcher experienced leg cramps in his last rehab start on Wednesday which caused a dip in velocity. Showalter classified it as a non-issue.
Source: Berkshire mont