Does Kirk Nieuwenhuis fit on this Mets roster?
So many players, not enough roster spots, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis seems like a player once again on the bubble with the Mets.
Nieuwenhuis has made two rehab appearances for Single-A St. Lucie this weekend, and he’s gone 1-for-8 with a home run in those two games. He is eligible to return from the disabled list from a pinched nerve in his back on Monday.
It seems all but certain Nieuwenhuis will be ready to return from the disabled list sometime in the next week. But right now, there really is no place for him on the active roster.
The one player he could replace on the roster is Michael Conforto, simply because he has options. And, if the Mets demote Conforto now, they could bring him back when rosters expand and avoid burning the option (a player must be in the minor leagues 20 days for the option to be used).
But at a time Sandy Alderson is clearly trying to offer Terry Collins the best 25 players in the organization at the big league level, making such a decision would simply be an effort to fully ensure Nieuwenhuis is retained.
That’s not at all meant to criticize Nieuwenhuis. He has been tremendous in his second go-around with the Mets in 2015. He became the first Met to homer three times in a single home game against the Diamondbacks on July 12.
He’s hit .317/.404/.634 with four doubles, three home runs and ten RBI in 17 games since being brought back.
Still, barring an injury to someone else or a setback for Nieuwenhuis, it’s logical to conclude the Mets could designate him for assignment again when he’s ready to be activated, with hopes he clears waivers once again.
There is a catch to this, however.
A player cannot be outrighted off a 40-man roster more than once without his consent, regardless of service time. So, Nieuwenhuis could conceivably decide to seek employment elsewhere at the big league level if he is designated for assignment by the Mets.
However, if he does find a big league job with another team, it’s not guaranteed it will be with a team with a shot at the playoffs, especially this time of year.
Assuming he clears waivers, perhaps the Mets and Nieuwenhuis would agree to a scenario that would guarantee the player a call-up in two weeks when rosters expand.
Of course, this is all conjecture, but something the Mets undoubtedly have to be able to gauge in advance if they do indeed designate Nieuwenhuis for assignment.