Rondón, 30 in March, has 169 games of major league experience, getting part-time action in four different seasons from 2016 to 2021. He bounced around from the Padres to the White Sox, Orioles and Cardinals in that time, making 380 plate appearances. He hit .216/.274/.353 in that time while playing all four infield positions, the outfield corners and even tossing an inning on the mound.
He was non-tendered by the Cardinals after that 2021 campaign and headed into the open market. In April of 2022, it was announced by Major League Baseball that Rondón was one of three players who received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance Boldenone.
He didn’t end up signing with an affiliated club that year, but joined the Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League for the 2023 season. In 72 games for that club, he slashed .286/.367/.465. He then joined Leones del Caracas of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League for winter ball, hitting .338/.413/.624 in 56 games for that club.
It appears those solid numbers in Mexico and/or the gaudy numbers in Venezuela attracted the attention of the Mets. It’s possible he’s more of an outfielder now, as that’s where he has been playing for the Leones, while the Toros only gave him brief time on the infield last year.
The Mets are set to have an outfield of Brandon Nimmo, Harrison Bader, Starling Marte and Tyrone Taylor this year, but all of them have dealt with significant injuries, either recently or in their career generally. DJ Stewart is on the roster but he’s considered a poor fielder and best suited for a designated hitter/bench bat role. Jeff McNeil could be in the outfield at some point but is slated to be the everyday second baseman for now.
To improve that depth, the Mets have signed guys like Trayce Thompson and Taylor Kohlwey to minor league deals but will now add Rondón into that mix as well. The Mets also have questions at third base, with Ronny Mauricio potentially missing the upcoming season due to a torn ACL. That leaves them with unproven younger players like Brett Baty and Mark Vientos alongside veteran utility guy Joey Wendle. If Rondón can still play the hot corner, that could be another path for him to get big league playing time if he can continue hitting the way he has been in winter ball.