Part 21 in a series analyzing the New York Mets.
It’s been a long time since Amed Rosario was the Mets’ top prospect.
Now that distinction belongs to Ronny Mauricio, the 19-year-old who finished last season at Class-A Columbia.
Since the Mets signed Rosario for $1.75 million in 2012, he’s shown glimpses of promise, like when he blossomed as a 20-year-old at Double-A Binghamton in 2016.
But those flashes have been infrequent, and he’s yet to establish himself as anything but an average player.
There’s still hope, with Rosario just 24 and with two full seasons in the majors under his belt, but he is on the clock.
Because though Rosario is young and coming off a season in which he made noticeable improvements on both sides of the ball, the Mets could have some intriguing options at the position in the near future.
Mauricio has yet to prove he can hit as a pro and another infield prospect, Andres Gimenez, 21, reached Double-A Binghamton in 2019 and also struggled at the plate at that level.
Aside from potential homegrown competition, Rosario could also be displaced by someone from outside the organization.
As The Post’s Joel Sherman reported during the offseason, the Mets talked to Cleveland about trading for Francisco Lindor, who was on the market.
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They ultimately decided to go with Rosario, who improved both at the plate and defensively in 2019. That development has been stalled by the shutdown of the sport and could give the Mets a tougher decision to make in the next year or two as they try to determine how to go forward at short.
This coming offseason, Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien and Andrelton Simmons could become free agents. The real free-agent jackpot figures to come next offseason — Lindor, Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, Corey Seager and Trevor Story all may be available, provided they don’t sign extensions with their current teams.
Coming off a season in which Rosario seemed about to come into his own as a hitter and impressed the Mets with his work at short with infield coach Gary DiSarcina, 2020 was setting up as a key season in his development — and for the team to gauge just what it has in Rosario.
He spent part of the offseason working on diving plays to his left and backhand plays to his right and the Mets were hoping to see if the progress he made offensively, when he went from an OPS of .687 over his first 68 games to an .806 OPS during his final 89 games, would stick.
That’s on hold for now.
“He’s still young and I think he really took some strides during the second half last year,’’ one NL scout said. “The things he did better as the year went on seemed sustainable. I don’t think it was a fluke, but the only way to know that for sure is for him to do it again and not being able to play isn’t helping.”
And, like most everyone else, the scout was unsure if Rosario would ultimately be the answer at short in Queens.
“There are so many unknowns,’’ the scout said. “Will he keep getting better? Who else is out there that they can get if they’re ready to move on?”
There’s also the uncertainty of what finances will look like throughout the sport once it does come back then has to deal with a new CBA following next season.
Before spring training ended prematurely because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rosario said he was starting to find his rhythm at the plate and insisted his focus was on the present and not what might happen in the future.
“I’m still trying to learn and be the best player I can be,’’ Rosario said. “What I did last year gave me confidence and I want to show I can get even better.’’
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