Mets first baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith has been an obvious change-of-scenery candidate for months, and Robert Murray of FanSided reports that the Cubs and Red Sox are among the teams to have recently spoken to the Mets about the 27-year-old.
It’s been a season to forget for Smith, who opened the year in a bench role that gave him limited playing time before he was optioned to Triple-A on May 31. Smith received 101 plate appearances over the season’s first two months, starting 22 of the team’s first 40 games — including just 13 of the Mets’ 29 games in May. Along the way, he struggled to a .186/.287/.256 batting line, losing more and more time to fellow DH candidate J.D. Davis.
Upon being optioned to Syracuse, Smith appeared in 15 games and turned in a .266/347/.438 batting line with a pair of homers, five doubles and three steals in 72 trips to the plate. He was summoned back to the big leagues in late June and has batted .208/.255/.333 in 51 plate appearances since — again seeing sparse playing time as a part-time option off the bench. He’s played in 19 games since returning but only played a complete game on nine occasions.
This is the second straight season in which Smith has struggled, though he acknowledged back in Spring Training that he played through a small tear in the labrum of his right shoulder during the 2021 season. That surely played a role in Smith’s lackluster .244/.304/.363 showing last season — particularly when comparing that output to the robust .299/.366/.571 slash he posted in 396 plate appearances from 2019-20.
Smith’s trade value is at a low point, given the consecutive poor seasons at the plate and minimal defensive value. He’s improved his glovework at first base in recent years but is miscast as a left fielder. Still, Smith is a former first-round pick (No. 11 overall in 2013) and multi-time top-100 prospect who, from 2019-20, looked to be well on his way to solidifying himself as a middle-of-the-order presence in Queens. Pete Alonso’s emergence understandably cut into his opportunities, however, and Smith’s playing time was further cut down this season when the Mets added Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha and Starling Marte to an already crowded infield/outfield mix.
There’s some sense to both Boston and Chicago as potential fits for Smith, who is earning $3.95MM in 2022 and has two seasons of club control remaining beyond the current campaign. The Red Sox have seen Bobby Dalbec’s sky-high strikeout rates catch up to him as his 2020-21 batting average on balls in play has come back down to earth, and they could lose J.D. Martinez to free agency at season’s end. Franchy Cordero, meanwhile, got out to a decent start at first base in his latest big league look but has faltered since the calendar flipped to July. Cordero, Dalbec and top prospect Tristan Casas give the Sox some options at first and at DH beyond the 2022 season, but Smith is a sensible enough buy-low candidate to add to the mix.
Over at Wrigley Field, the Cubs have received poor production from both Frank Schwindel and Alfonso Rivas. The Cubs surely hoped that they’d unearthed a diamond in the rough after Schwindel erupted with an out-of-nowhere .342/.389/.613 slash and 13 homers in 56 games with them down the stretch in ’21, but Schwindel is hitting just .238/.283/.383 in a similar sample size this season. Rivas, meanwhile, is at .236/.313/.323 in his first extended big league audition. The Cubs have been threading the needle between rebuilding and also trying to add some interesting long-term pieces (e.g. Seiya Suzuki, Marcus Stroman), and Smith would align with that type of addition.
Given Smith’s pedigree and the production he displayed in 2019-20, it’s likely that other clubs will check in, hoping that a more consistent role might bring about a return to form. Smith hasn’t outwardly requested a trade from the Mets, but he’s also been candid when asked by reporters about the possibility of a trade, stating that while he loves the Mets organization, his goal is to be an everyday player — wherever that might be.