Reese Kaplan -- Keep Him or Trade Him?

Many people feel that the rather expensive addition of Alejandro De Aza is doubly bad now that Yoenis Cespedes is back.  After all, with the superior defensive game provided by Juan Lagares one would think De Aza’s playing opportunities would be few and far between.  Many have advocated trading him which would require his permission as he was signed as a free agent.  Proponents argue that he’d be amenable to a deal since he would likely get more playing time nearly anywhere else rather than rotting on the bench in Queens.

What’s less clear, however, is the decision of how to use that extra roster spot should they find a taker for De Aza’s services.  Many are pushing for a Scott Van Slyke type who could both spell a corner outfielder and give the team a legitimate backup to Lucas Duda at 1st base. 

While, on the surface, this approach makes sense, it gives the Mets yet another right handed bench bat to accompany Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and Kevin Plawecki.  The regular lineup is somewhat left-handed heavy with Duda, Neil Walker (switch hitter), Asdrubal Cabrera (switch hitter), Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson all better while facing right handed pitching.  (So too is Yoenis Cespedes, but he bats right handed). 

Who then would the Mets want to send up to the plate to face a tough right handed reliever like Mark Melancon, Trevor Rosenthal, Craig Kimbrel or Frankie “K-Rod” Rodriguez?  In these occasions it would behoove them to have a left handed bat.  If that lefty can also provide a little pop, so much the better. 

So now the question becomes what LH player could play the OF and an occasional stint at 1B?  Of course, if you go in that direction, then you lose the luxury of sitting Duda against a tough lefty if the replacement player is also batting from the left hand side.  Among the available free agents there are outfielders and there are first basemen but none who meet both criteria while also being left handed.

Consequently what should the Mets do?  Should they keep De Aza as he is a veteran with some power and some speed?  Should they trade him and go all right handed on the bench?  Should they seek another lefty-only option such as Grazy Sizemore or Max Venable or switch hitter Shane Victorino?  (On that latter one, they might as well just keep De Aza unless they feel one of them would cost far less). 

Or should the Mets go in another direction entirely?  They’ve been talking about getting Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki to work at some other positions.  Plawecki has already spent some time at 1B in the minors.  He could be the RH option on days when a tough lefty would make sitting Duda a prudent choice.  He’s had 20 games at the position which is about 19 more than Wilmer Flores has had and he’s the current backup option. 

Of course, the problem with using your backup catcher as a pinch hitter or at another position means you could be facing a world of hurt should the starter need to come out of the game.  That’s where some creative thinking comes in.  Despite a lackluster debut last year, lefty-hitting Johnny Monell has smashed the ball throughout his minor league career.  In Las Vegas in just 256 ABs (about half a season’s worth) he slugged 7 HRs and 51 RBIs while hitting .324.  Some of it is likely the PCL effect on inflating numbers, but he’s hit as many as 20 HRs and batted .270 for his minor league career in less hitter-friendly environments. 

This move wouldn’t happen for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the snap judgments of the man at the top who proclaimed his new 8th inning setup man based upon an eight-week pitching debut last year that was out of character for anything he’s done prior in his entire career.  Similarly, Monell’s 48 ABs to the tune of .167 while playing once a week or so as a pinch hitter has surely rendered him solidly in the “No!” column in Collins’ mind. 

Furthermore, it would leave the Mets with just one legitimate outfield backup in Juan Lagares.  While the starters are surely expected to play nearly every day, it’s still fairly thin in that regard. 

So what’s your take?  Keep De Aza?  Trade him?  If so, how would you replace him?


Ernest Dove said...

I say keep em........
He's a veteran with the most speed of anyone on the bench (unless lagares is faster).
Let him start the year as the guy to pinch hit every night against a righty reliever. If he does well, awesome. If not, make a trade deadline deal to acquire/rent a better lefty bench guy for the playoff push.

Mack Ade said...

I like Ernest's idea of using him until the trade deadline

Thomas Brennan said...

I'd keep him. Injuries are part of the game (just ask Brandon Nimmo) and if one of the top 4 OFs went down with an injury for any length of time, we'd rue getting rid of him. If by some surge, Nimmo has a spectacular first half in AAA, maybe de Aza can be traded and Nimmo called up then.

Mayo's Mets said...

Lagares has a long way to go to prove he can hit RHP, so if any of our three starters go down with serious injury, we'll be glad we have DeAza against RH starters. Also, Duda is fine. He has 100 wRC+ last 2 years vs LHP. That's better than Shane V. Having Travis D getting 75 ABs at 1B would be ideal.

Hobie said...

Keep him for now, unless bowled over of course. And at the ASB don't ignore the idea of trading Grandy and playing Legates in CF, Conforto-Cespedes in L-R/R-L.

BTW, Walker caught 100+ games in the minors. I wouldn't put him behind the plate if either of the other 2 were still breathing, but you CAN PH your back-up catcher. There's a difference between a back-up catcher who's expected to play and an emergency catcher who is not.

Anonymous said...

This would be a mood point had the brain trust released Campbell instead of Ceciliani. But no, lets release the only other true CF in the system who could actually play all 3 outfield positions and had speed.

Mayo's Mets said...

DeAza is costly but good insurance against OF injuries. He has proven he can hit MLB RHP. Lagares has proven he can lose 20 pounds. And when you're in WS contention, you don't mess with unprovens like Nimmo and Ceciliani.

Stubby said...

If this is the worst problem the Mets face this year, we're in tremendous shape.

Give it up on Monell already. The kid's a Quad-A hitter at best. Frankly, looking at his minor league numbers, he might not even be that good. If his .167 with the Mets puts him in Collins' "no" column, all I can say is I'm with Collins.

Herb G said...

I liked the De Aza signing when it looked like we needed a platoon partner for Lagares in CF, but now that Yo is in the fold he has become an expensive 5th OF. If we can get value for him, I would let him go.

Forget Scott Van Slyke. The Dodgers aren't letting a low cost, controllable kid who has shown he can hit major league pitching go. The time to have gotten Van Slyke was 2 years ago, when we passed on him as he went through wavers.

Texas has been rumored to have interest in De Aza. If they would send us a decent young reliever prospect like Keone Kela or Yohander Mendez, I'd pull the trigger and then sign David Murphy to a minor league deal. He would provide a LH bat off the bench, and would be tradeable at the deadline if Nimmo makes a case to be brought up. If there were no decent takers for De Aza, I'd happily keep him.

Mack Ade said...

let's not forget Bernadina

Anonymous said...

De Aza has value as an insurance policy. That's it. A very wasteful insurance policy.

On the field, in actual games over the course of the season, he's not going to be very useful . . . unless an outfielder goes down with a serious injury.

He can PH for the pitcher, that's it.

TC will be hard-pressed to find a legitimate way to keep him fresh and useful.

But, sure, in the event of a major injury, we'll be glad we have him. That's money that could have been used in a much better way.

At this point, you hold him until some time passes and you see what develops. The club still needs someone to fill the Cuddyer role. And the club needs spare cash come the trade deadline, so they can add talent. Wasting millions on Tejada and De Aza as insurance policies? Not ideal.

James Preller

Anonymous said...

I should add: De Aza is the 8th highest-paid player on the roster.

Will Venable just signed a minor league contract.

James Preller

Mack's Mets © 2012