Smith earned a call-up to the major leagues in mid-August after hitting .330 with 16 home runs with Class AAA Las Vegas.
But he struggled during his month and a half in the major leagues, hitting an underwhelming .198 with 49 strikeouts and a .658 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 49 games.
Smith’s late-season showing prompted the Mets to explore outside upgrades at first base. But the Mets, whose 2018 payroll is expected to drop from a 2017 opening day mark of $155 million, have targeted players who can play some first base and some outfield — free agents such Adam Lind, Howie Kendrick or the former Met Jay Bruce.
Signing a player who could also play the outfield would give the Mets some insurance as Michael Conforto returns from a shoulder operation he had in September. Alderson said he did not expect Conforto to be ready for opening day.
“We have to look at that cautiously,” Alderson said. “Not that he’s not making progress or anything like that, it’s just the time it may take.”
Alderson suggested that he did not want to pursue an expensive, long-term first baseman who would limit Smith’s playing time.
“Dominic is still very much in the mix,” Alderson said. “I wouldn’t expect us to do something that totally eliminates Dominic as a possibility. I’d be surprised if we did anything that precluded him from having an opportunity in spring training.”
Alderson also reiterated the Mets’ desire to add a second baseman and relief help this off-season — either via trade or through free agency. But he indicated the club would not dig too deeply into its pockets for a middle reliever.
“To the extent that the market gets overheated, I don’t think we’ll jump into the inferno,” he said.