Mets infielder TJ Rivera went down late last June with an injury to his right elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery in September to repair the damage. On Thursday, Rivera finally found himself on the field playing for the High-A St. Lucie Mets in a rehab game. Though he went hitless in his 2018 debut, Rivera can still be a huge part of the rest of the Mets 2018 season, and many more to come.
Rivera of the past
Rivera, a 29-year-old undrafted free agent, has been a great addition to the Mets since making his major league debut late in the 2016 season, and he impressed the Mets enough to land himself on the Mets' NL Wild Card roster. Though his major league tenure in 2016 was not even a month long, he posted a respectable slash line of .333/.345/.476.
In 2017, Rivera earned himself a spot on the Mets' Opening Day roster. He only played on 73 games and hit only five home runs before being put on the disabled list in late June, and his 2017 line was still a fine .290/.330/.430
Despite underwhelming numbers in 2017, TJ Rivera could be a great piece for the Mets once he gets himself healthy again. Rivera is a workhorse. He has proven that through his undrafted free agent story when he went from Lehman High School in the Bronx to Alabama's Troy University to the Mets roster itself. Surely it will not take him long to get himself back to Queens. But the question is, where will he fit when he gets there?
Rivera of the future?
Rivera has proven that he can play effectively at the major league level on both sides of the plate. When healthy, he could be a perfect replacement for Jose Reyes, who is pretty much a waste of space at this point.
Reyes is batting a laughable .171 this season and has committed seven errors compared to just four total RBI in 121 plate appearances in 2018. The Mets have said time and time again that they think Reyes is an important asset to their team, but that really isn't the case. He has caused more harm than good and it is time for him to bow out. Rivera is ten times the player Reyes is at this point, and the Mets would be crazy to keep Reyes in the majors and Rivera in the minors.
Rivera could also be a great replacement if the Mets do in fact trade Wilmer Flores. I know, that's tough to think about, but Flores is playing really well this year (.246/.323./460) and the Mets could get something nice in return for him.
Flores has mostly been playing first base since the Mets released Adrian Gonzalez. First base is a position that Rivera has played for the Mets more than a few times, so the fit would be perfect if the Mets are willing to part ways with Flores via a trade or other means. Rivera could even play second base for the orange and blue if Asdrubal Cabrera (.248/.332/.489) winds up on the trade block.
Either way, one thing is certain. TJ Rivera brings a lot to the table, and the Mets would be foolish to just let him toil away in the minors when he can do them more good in Flushing.
Could Rivera be the spark the Mets need to get themselves back to at least .500? Let us know what you think in the comments!