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Mets' 5 best DH options to platoon with Daniel Vogelbach for 2023 MLB season

One area the New York Mets did not aggressively address this offseason was right-handed designated hitter. As such, there’s going to be competition in spring training to see who’ll platoon with the lefty swinging Daniel Vogelbach. We’ll examine the Mets five best DH options from the right side for the 2023 MLB season.

The Mets got little production from the right side in the DH role in 2022. J.D. Davis started the season as the primary right-handed DH and struggled, slashing .238/.324/.358 with a .683 OPS. He was dealt before the MLB Trade Deadline to the San Francisco Giants as part of a package to acquire veteran Darin Ruf to fill the same role.

Ruf failed miserably. In 74 plate appearances after the trade, Ruf had a putrid .413 OPS, managed only three extra-base hits (all doubles) and created a black hole in the lineup whenever he played.

Yet, Ruf remains and is in a fight for a roster spot this spring.

Lets see what the Mets 5 best options are to fill the right-handed DH role for the 2023 MLB season.

5. Darin Ruf remains part of Mets DH platoon this season

This is the least popular move with Mets fans but is a strong possibility.

Ruf has a strong track record hitting left-handed pitching over eight MLB seasons. His career OPS against lefties is .891 and his slash line in that span is a solid .272/.367/.523. On paper, he should be the perfect complement to Vogelabach, who torches right-handed pitching but can’t touch lefties.

But alas, there was last season, when Ruf slashed .222/.322/.430 for the Giants and Mets against lefties. Was that an aberration? The Mets seem bent on giving the 36-year-old the benefit of the doubt, even as he opens spring training with a wrist issue.

4. Mark Vientos makes roster as part of Mets DH platoon

This is a wild card option but an appealing one considering Vientos is a homegrown prospect looking to prove he’s MLB ready. The 23-year-old slugger hit 24 home runs and had 72 RBI at Triple-A Syracuse last season. He batted a solid .280 and had an .877 OPS, playing every day against lefties and righties.

Vientos got 41 plate appearances in a late-season call up to The Show and batted .167, though he did hit first major league homer.

If Vientos hits this spring and shows that he can adequately play in the field when needed -- at third and first base -- he’s got a good shot at earning a roster spot.

3. Francisco Alvarez makes roster as catcher and DH for Mets

This is not likely going to happen, but it certainly has its appeal. Alvarez is the Mets top prospect and the No. 1 catching prospect in all of baseball. His bat seems big-league ready and who wouldn’t be excited to watch Alvarez mash at Citi Field this season after all the hype and build up.

Just 21 years old, Alvarez blitzed through the minor leagues, hitting 51 home runs the past two seasons when he played at Double-A and Triple-A last season after starring at two levels of Single-A in 2021.

But GM Billy Eppler explained this past week that the Mets do not want Alvarez to be a part-time catcher in the bigs just to get his bat in the lineup as DH. They want Alvarez to be a full-time catcher when he arrives in Queens, meaning he’s likely starting the season at Syracuse to work on his defense and pitch calling.

2. Tommy Pham is primary right-handed DH for Mets

This scenario calls for several moving parts. Pham was signed to be the Mets fourth outfielder, though he’s been a regular player every season since 2017. One way to get Pham the at bats he’s accustomed to would be to have him fill the DH slot opposite Vogelbach.

Pham hits from the right side, has power and handles both right- and left-handed pitching well. His career slash against lefties is .276/.392/.450 with an .842 OPS. That would play nicely in the Mets lineup.

But if Pham does slot into that role on a regular basis, the Mets would need to have an another outfielder on the roster. That could be Tim Locastro, a non-roster invitee who would provide a much-needed speed element to the Mets bench, or utility man Danny Mendick, who is also fast but not a traditional outfielder.

1. Brett Baty is the Mets third baseman, Eduardo Escobar gets DH at bats for Mets

This is likely the most exciting scenario. If the highly touted Baty proves he’s ready to hit consistently at the Major League level after receiving only 22 at bats at Triple-A and 38 with the Mets last season, New York could start Baty at third base and move Escobar into a DH role. Escobar could also play his fair share of third base, especially on days the Mets are facing a tough lefty and want to protect the left-handed hitting Baty. On those days, Pham could DH.

Escobar is a switch hitter, so he’s suited to playing every day. But Baty is New York’s No. 2 prospect and if he’s ready, he should not be held back. Baty already had a nice start in the Mets intrasquad game Friday, raking a pair of hits off Joey Lucchesi (a lefty!), and slugged a home run in his first spring training at bat the next day.

However, like Alvarez, Baty could start the season in the minors. But he’s got a better shot at making the Opening Day roster.

Photo: Mark Rosenman

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