Now that the 2023 season is over for the New York Mets, we have been looking back at the year that was. After taking a more general view of the offense, pitching, and coaching staff, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the Mets’ players. This series will take a look at every player on the roster for the Mets at the end of the season from A (Abraham Almonte) to W (Josh Walker). The review will look at their season statistics, stories, and what role (if any) they will have next season. We continue the series today with a look at outfielder Rafael Ortega.
Player Review: Rafael Ortega
Minor Leagues (2 Teams): 74 Games, 281 At Bats, .228 Batting Average, 64 Hits, 18 Doubles, 9 Home Runs, 41 RBIs, 51 Runs Scored, 14 Stolen Bases, 54 Walks, .740 OPS
Major Leagues: 44 Games, 114 At Bats, .219 Batting Average, 25 Hits, 3 Doubles, 1 Home Run, 8 RBIs, 16 Runs Scored, 6 Stolen Bases, 20 Walks, .613 OPS, 0.2 WAR
Story: Veteran outfielder Rafael Ortega bounced around the league quite a bit in 2023. After starting the year in the New York Yankees’ farm system, Ortega was cut at the end of spring training. The Texas Rangers then signed Ortega to a minor league deal and assigned him to AAA Round Rock, where he hit .226 in 44 games before getting released in early June.
The Mets signed Ortega to a minor league deal on June 18 and assigned him to AAA Syracuse to add more outfield depth to the upper levels of their farm system. Ortega ended up getting promoted to the majors in August after the Mets traded away outfielders Mark Canha and Tommy Pham, leaving the team in need of big-league caliber bodies to play games.
August saw Ortega have a few big moments, notably delivering a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to help the Mets walk off with a win against the Los Angeles Angels on August 27th, and he appeared to be the most productive of the team’s cast-offs to fill in at the major league level. Ortega’s playing time mostly dried up in September as the Mets began to play their young players more often but he got a few more shots late in the year as Brandon Nimmo was dealing with various injuries. Unfortunately for the Mets, Ortega didn’t do much with his late opportunities.
Ortega was a journeyman when the Mets signed him in June and he gave them passable outfield defense and a few timely hits in August, which is more than they could have reasonably expected given the state of the team.
Contract Status: Free Agent
Odds Of Returning: 0%
2024 Role: None
Ortega was among the first wave of players new President of Baseball Operations David Stearns removed from the 40-man roster, outrighting him to AAA Syracuse. As a veteran, Ortega utilized his right to refuse the assignment and became a free agent, where he will look to latch on with another organization to try and find a clearer path to big league playing time. The Mets still need to find major league caliber outfielders but early reports indicate that Stearns is trying to upgrade over an Ortega type player to fill those holes on the 40-man roster.
Check back tomorrow as our Player Review Series continues with a look at relief pitcher Adam Ottavino!