The Mets placed first baseman Dominic Smith on the 10-day injured list due to a right ankle sprain, per a team announcement. The move is retroactive to July 17, so Smith will be able to return by the middle of next week, in a best-case scenario.
Smith’s placement on the IL comes with less than two weeks remaining before the Aug. 2 trade deadline. He’s been an obvious change-of-scenery candidate for much of the season and has reportedly been the subject of conversations with both the Cubs and the Red Sox. Smith’s placement on the IL doesn’t by any means eliminate the possibility of a trade; beyond the fact that he can return prior to the deadline, it’s not uncommon to see players flipped even while on the 10- or 15-day IL. (Look no further than Boston’s acquisition of Kyle Schwarber last summer.) That said, it does throw a wrench into things for the Mets, particularly since they’d be selling low on Smith in the first place.
The 27-year-old Smith hit .299/.366/.571 in 396 plate appearances with the Mets from 2019-20, giving the impression that he was making good on his status as a former first-round pick and top-100 prospect. In the two seasons since that time, however, he’s managed just a .233/.298/.345 batting line in 645 plate appearances, playing through a partial tear in his right shoulder’s labrum last season and struggling through inconsistent playing time so far in 2022. The Mets optioned Smith to Triple-A Syracuse at the end of May, and while he hit fairly well in the minors and has been a bit better since returning in late June, the overall results this season have been quite poor.
Smith is owed the remainder of a $3.95MM salary for the 2022 season and will be arbitration-eligible twice more before becoming a free agent following the 2024 season — assuming he’s tendered a contract, of course. At present, he looks like a clear non-tender candidate for a Mets team that won’t be able to afford him regular playing time upon his return from the IL, although another club might welcome the chance to buy low on Smith and hope that regular at-bats bring about production closer to his 2019-20 form.