Reese Kaplan -- Looking at 2019 -- 2B Options


For the past few years the Mets have manned second base with Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera.  Both, when healthy, acquitted themselves well but baseball is a business and expiring contracts on bad teams are a formula for July fire sales.  Walker yielded the Mets relief prospect Eric Hanhold and Cabrera is apparently on several teams’ radars, including the first place Los Angeles Dodgers, who need someone to fill in for TJS patient Corey Seager.   

Assuming that he and the Mets do part ways this year, past history would suggest a reunion tour is not beyond the realm of probability.  After all, the Mets brought back free agents Yoenis Cespedes, Jerry Blevins, Jay Bruce, Jose Reyes and others.  After all, a lack of originality is a hallmark of Mets behavior.  Furthermore, getting older, more injury prone players instead of giving opportunities to younger ones is also a revered Mets tradition. 

So what other options exist to cover the right side of the keystone combo?

Well, on the internal front there is the man without a position, Wilmer Flores.  He is never going to make anyone forget Doug Flynn in the field, but neither did long time second baseman Daniel Murphy.  What he can do, like Murphy, is hit.  For a team that struggles to overcome a 1-0 deficit, you would think a guy who can deliver in the clutch should be a consideration, particularly when he earns very little and is just 26.

By now everyone is well aware of the exploits of Jeff McNeil who came from seemingly out of nowhere to put together an eye-opening season at AA and AAA.  The 26 year old has yet to sniff the majors, but all he’s done so far in 2018 is hit more home runs than he has in his 2013-2017 years combined.  In AA for Binghamton he was hitting .327 and when promoted to AAA he took to the PCL to the tune of a .393 average.  He’s played almost as many games at 3B as he has at 2B, so he most definitely must be in the mix. 

Lost in the shuffle is currently injured Gavin Cecchini.  The former 1st round draft choice has had some bright moments in the minors, but the deposed Skipper saw fit to play then 34 year old Jose Reyes every day rather than take a long look at what Cecchini might be capable of doing.  He is currently batting .294 in AAA and has hit in the mid .300s as well. 

The man with the reputation as a gloveman extraordinaire, Luis Guillorme, had a rough first go of it in the majors.  His defense was not the stuff of grabbing flying bats and his offense was pretty damned offensive.  He has only hit 4 HRs in nearly 2000 minor league ABs.  OK, so not everyone is Joe Morgan, but he’s also only hit on average about 17 doubles per season.  That’s not exactly going to strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers.  That makes Ruben Tejada look like Jose Altuve by comparison.

On the free agent front you have a few interesting options.  Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has picked the wrong time to have a down year.  He’s only hitting .223 with 13 HRs and 38 RBIs.  He has had full seasons with as many as 42 HRs and 99 RBIs in a season.  He’s never going to hit for average – just .248 for his career – but coming into his age 32 season, an all or nothing slugger seems to be the kind of aging player the Mets have coveted during the recent years.  Right now he’s earning $9 million in what’s likely his final Twins contract.

The Rockies’ DJ LeMahieu would be a radical departure for the Mets.  He is a high contact, high average hitter with modest power and modest speed.  For his career he’s hit .299 and struck out well under an average of 100 times per season.  He’s also having a bit of a down year, hitting .270/8/34 thus far.

Then there are a number of old “friends” slated to be FAs as well – Asdrubal Cabrera, Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker and Jose Reyes.  None tick the boxes about getting younger and more athletic, plus Murphy and Cabrera will be looking for substantial increases.  Neil Walker took a drop off the salary cliff from Sandy Alderson lost $17.2 million bet to a $4 million contract with the NY Yankees. 

If it was up to me, I would play minimum wage Jeff McNeil and see what he can do.  Wilmer Flores and Gavin Cecchini are backup plans.  I don’t see any reason to go outside the organization to fill this position. 


Gary Seagren said...

If McNeil isn't up by end of the month there needs to be an investigation started. Maybe the "plan" is to suck for a better draft pick but I think I'm giving them to much credit. Loved the articles on Alonso and Giminez so maybe just maybe there is some hope and with the possibility of a new GM from outside the organization thinks might change....maybe.

Tom Brennan said...

McNeil - few anywhere in the minors are as deserving of a real shot. It's time.

Mike Freire said...

I also vote McNeil!

Plus, you wonder if one of our minor league short stop prospects (and there are a few hundred of them) can eventually transition over to second base, eventually?

Gimenez, perhaps?

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