Entering the season it looked like the New York Mets were set for the long term at shortstop. Amed Rosario was coming off a strong 2019 season where he hit .272 with 15 home runs, 72 RBI’s, 19 stolen bases and a .755 OPS. As an ascending 24-year-old player, the Mets looked to finally have their successor to Jose Reyes at shortstop after searching for nearly a decade. The team’s choice to carry another shortstop, Andres Gimenez, on the Opening Day roster merited a raised eyebrow but few were convinced he would be a significant threat to Rosario’s playing time.
Fast forward a month and a half and the Mets’ shortstop situation has changed radically. Rosario, who is hitting just .223 with a .583 OPS, has been essentially benched for Gimenez, who has impressed in his rookie season. Gimenez was already expected to be a better defender than Rosario, which he has demonstrated over the course of the season, but the lingering concerns about Gimenez involved his hitting.
Scouts were unsure that Gimenez would hit enough to stick as a big-league starter at shortstop after a tough 2019 campaign at AA Binghamton. Gimenez has earned his playing time with his glove and kept it with his bat, hitting .292 with two homers and a .767 OPS this season. A month and a half is a small sample size for sure, but Gimenez has demonstrated qualities that are mighty impressive given his age.
Gimenez has always drawn rave reviews for his eye at the plate and has continued to work good at-bats in the major leagues. That patience at the plate is a direct contrast to Rosario, who has more raw power but is not very disciplined in terms of drawing walks. Gimenez has also demonstrated his plus speed and ability to hit to the opposite field, including a big home run last night to tie a game the Mets went on to win 7-6.
Manager Luis Rojas has essentially determined that Gimenez is the better player right now so he has played essentially every day while Rosario gets a handful of at-bats per week. Defense has certainly been a driving factor in some of those decisions as the Mets look to put defenders in better positions to succeed like Dominic Smith at first base, but Gimenez has also out-hit Rosario for the course of the season.
It does raise a big question for the future in terms of how the Mets handle this situation. There has been speculation in the past that Rosario could end up in center field due to his athleticism, but that is no guarantee to be a success. Rosario still has a ton of upside as he hits his prime so giving up on him would be an unwise decision unless the Mets can use him as an asset to improve the team via trade in the offseason.
One natural fit could be the Cleveland Indians, who will probably move Francisco Lindor over the winter due to a perceived inability to sign him long term. Incoming owner Steve Cohen could presumably afford to ink an extension, so the Mets could use Rosario as the centerpiece of a deal to bring Lindor to Flushing. The Mets could also opt to keep Gimenez at shortstop and look to trade with the Indians for pitching since they are flush with starters which the Mets desperately need.
This whole debate has emerged because Gimenez has stepped up in a challenging season to prove he belongs at the big league level. It certainly appears likely that Gimenez will finish the season as the Mets’ starting shortstop. What happens going forward will require a big offseason discussion in the front office, which may end up being restructured significantly once Cohen takes over.