There are a lot of young and talented players at spring training for the New York Mets that are getting a lot of attention from fans and causing a lot of excitement, but one guy that isn’t is Jordany Valdespin. Valdespin certainly caused his fair share of excitement during the 2012 season, hitting five pinch-hit homeruns, including a game-winning homer against Jonathan Papelbon of the Philadelphia Phillies for his first major league hit. But now, in his 3rd season in big league camp with the Mets, there doesn’t seem to be a spot for him, and his future role in the organization is uncertain.
The biggest opening for a fringe player like Valdespin to make the Mets this spring is in the outfield. Despite being a middle infielder for much of his career, Valdespin began playing the outfield last year, where he performed better than expected, as his athleticism helped make up for a lack of experience playing the position. However, after playing the outfield for much of winter ball, Mets manager Terry Collins has said Valdespin will see most of his time this spring in the infield, giving him an uphill climb as it pertains to making the club as an outfielder, where he could compete for a bench role or have a chance in the wide-open competition in centerfield.
In the infield, Valdespin also appears to be on the outside looking in. He’s unlikely to unseat Daniel Murphy at second base, and the Mets were unimpressed with his defense at shortstop last year, making it unlikely Valdespin could win the role as the backup middle infielder. As it stands, unless Murphy were to suffer an injury during spring training, allowing Valdespin to replace him, he is unlikely to break camp with the major league club.
So then what is Valdespin’s role with the team look like? Well, regarding Valdespin the question has to be asked, do the Mets even want to keep him? His talent has always stood out, but Valdespin’s work ethic, maturity, and attitude have always been questioned. On top of that, he has not exhibited the plate discipline and consistent effort that a player his age should have. If Valdespin doesn’t show significant improvement in all of these areas and prove that he can be a useful player for the Mets in 2013, it may be time to cut ties with him. His issues are known throughout baseball, so his trade value is low, but if Valdespin can’t make a splash in spring training and start to prove his worth, it seems futile to keep him around and keep waiting for his talent to turn into major league production. So, what exactly is Valdespin’s future role with the Mets? Much of that will be determined in the next few weeks.