The winter league experiment has come to a quick end for New York Mets’ infielder Dominic Smith. Smith is leaving his Dominican team, Toros Del Este, after just seven games, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports. The team released Smith due to a disagreement over how to deploy the player. Smith agreed to participate with the expectation that he would get regular playing time in the outfield, a position the Mets began having him play during the course of the 2018 season. Toros Del Este preferred to use Smith at his natural position of first base, so the parties made a mutual decision to part ways.
The new plan is for Smith to work out stateside in order to get ready for the 2019 season. Smith’s future with the Mets is uncertain after he hit just .224 with five home runs and 11 RBI’s at the big league level in 2018. The Mets have a lot of options at first base with Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores spending time there during the season and Peter Alonso nipping at Smith’s heels in the minors, so the team began playing Smith in left field once they were ravaged with outfield injuries. Smith didn’t look smooth out there at all, but with such a crowded path to the majors the Mets felt that this option was the best way to deploy Smith at the time.
It is also interesting that a Dominican Winter League team showed no interest in playing Smith in the outfield while the Mets are fine to do it at the highest level of professional baseball. Smith is known for having a good glove, and defense is something that the Mets have ignored for far too long. That glove is wasted with Smith playing a corner outfield spot, something Toros Del Este realized quickly and that the Mets have not. Time will tell what happens with Smith in 2019, but it will not come with the benefit of a full winter league season.