Reese Kaplan -- Looking at 2019 -- OF Options


When the Mets managed to lose two catchers on the same day, you had to think to yourself what could possibly be worse?  After all, what are the odds of losing every major league asset at the same time? 

Well, the 2018 outfield has been a case study in Murphy’s Law – and we don’t mean Daniel Murphy – whatever can go wrong will go wrong.  First you had Michael Conforto beginning the season on the DL and then obviously rushed back to play long before his body was ready.  It’s been borne out with his batting average 62 points lower than his All Star campaign of 2017.  His power is down, too, as he’s on a pace for 20 HRs after hitting 27 in a partial season last year. 

Yoenis Cespedes, when motivated, is a force on the baseball field.  However, he and his former manager never saw eye to eye, and when the club was no longer in contention Cespedes’ injuries tended to linger.  This season is no different with a mysterious quad, ankle, foot, hip problem that’s kept him out of action on the 10 day DL for more than 60 days thus far and counting. 

Jay Bruce was even worse between his plantar fasciitis, hip, back and whatever issues that have made him shut things down after posting an anemic .212/3/17 line on pace for under 10 HRs and 50 RBIs after delivering 36/101 last year.   

Then there’s the DL’s favorite son, Juan Lagares, whose revamped swing was humming along at a .339 clip when the injury bug bit once again.  This time it was a torn big toe ligament requiring surgery and ending his 2018 season in May. 

About the only thing that’s gone right thus far is the man they earlier in the year banished to the minors, Brandon Nimmo, whose surprising power and familiar OBP have made him a staple at the top of the order.

Things got so bad that the dumpster diving Mets even inked Jose Bautista to a major league minimum contract after being unceremoniously dumped by the Braves after registering just a .143 average.  He’s done a little better in NY with a .239, but at age 37 he’s not the kind of player around whom you build for the future.

So what does 2019 look like?  In a word, EXPENSIVE. 

Yoenis Cespedes is slated to earn $29 million.  Jay Bruce will make $14 million.  Juan Lagares will get $9.5 million.  Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are still in the non-arbitration years, so they will be relative bargains.  That’s well over $50 million already committed.  If the season started right now, you would have five outfielders for three starting positions.  While the depth is good to have, the fact is each has missed significant time in their careers with injuries.  (Did we already forget Brandon Nimmo’s collapsed lung?)

If you got average offensive years from these folks, then the Mets do not have a need to change anything.  However, health has not been a friend to any of them and the production has suffered as a result.  The odd men out appear to be Nimmo and Lagares who, ironically, produced the best 2018 numbers.  I’ve said it before that salary dictates playing time, so benching Bruce is not likely to happen. 

Unless the Three Stooges can pull off a miracle or they find someone with a brain to take over for them in the fall and he can do a bundled trade in which one of the expensive players goes along with a desirable piece from the major or minor league systems, what you see is what you’re going to get. 

Is there help available from the outside?

Sure, there are always free agents. There’s a guy who works near the White House named Bryce something who will only be 26 and on the market as a free agent.  His power is steady as ever with 22 HRs already, but Harper is only hitting .215 in his walk year.  Still, given his track record and his age (if not his level of maturity), he’s going to get a Miguel Cabrera type of contract. Moving on…

There is one intriguing name I see on the FA boards – A.J. Pollock of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  He’s had his own injury issues, but he’s a high average hitter with great speed and superior defense as a natural centerfielder.  He’s hit as many as 20 HRs, stolen as many as 39 bases and has a career batting average of .286.  He also doesn’t strike out.  If some miracle occurs and a vacancy evolves, he might be worth a look.  In his age 30 season for Arizona he’s earning a modest $7.75 million. 


Tom Brennan said...

I would try former college OF Jeff McNeil in the outfield. Nice inaugural hit for Jeff last night.

Combine the healthy parts of Yo, Jay, and Juan and you'd have quite a ballplayer.

Trouble is, the 3 are making $50 million this year.

This just in...Cespedes has stopped drinking 3 gallons of milk a day to cut down on calcium.

Mack Ade said...

I like Tom's idea. Send him to winter ball to exclusively play RF.

I no longer care about either Cespedes or Bruce. I would DFA both of them as soon as the docs say they are 100% healthy. Take what you can get or eat the salary and be done with these mistakes.

My 5 outfielders next season would be McNeil, Nimmo, Conforto, Lagares, and Kaczmarski... unless I could sign or trade for someone else

Mike Freire said...

Man, the Bruce deal looks worse by the day....especially when you consider that he is locked up for a bit.

Oh and the Cespedes deal is looking pretty bad, too.

And the Lagares extension!

Amazing that they can get so many decisions wrong......very messy short term picture, IMO.

Mack's Mets © 2012