Late last night, the Mets announced they signed former Oakland Athletic Jed Lowrie to a two year, 20 million dollar contract. This comes off the heels of a weekend where Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen traded for corner infielder J.D. Davis formerly of the Astros. Although there is a chance he could start in AAA, the Mets are now loaded with infielders. With the surprising acquisition of Lowrie, who is the odd man out?
Jeff McNeil burst on the scene the second half of 2018. In around two months with the big club, the second baseman hit .329 and had an OPS of .852. The most surprising stat however, is his strikeouts, or lack thereof. In 225 at bats, he struck out just 24 times. He was impressive to say the least. But how come many people did not ask about McNeil’s where abouts prior to this season?
Prior to 2018, McNeil played a combined 51 games in 2016 and 17 due to injuries, one of which was suffering a sports hernia, a back injury similar to what recently retired David Wright had. It is easy to understand why Mets fans would want to have Jeff McNeil play every day, but when it comes down to it, Robinson Cano is the man at second base.
But he has the potential to be the Mets version of Brock Holt. He is capable of playing third and first, as well as the outfield. Jeff McNeil will be seeing a good chunk of time for the Mets this year, but where is the biggest question.
Todd Frazier is the guy who will either spend a lot of time on the bench or be moved prior to opening day. The New Jersey native and former Yankee inked a two year, 17 million dollar deal with the Mets last off season, a deal that seemed fitting without knowing David Wright’s status but he did not play the way the Mets needed him to. The right handed hitter slashed .213/.303/.393 and hit 18 homers while driving in 59 runs.
One of the biggest positives that came with Frazier was his clean injury history. He has never spent any time on the disabled list throughout his career. Yet sure enough, he ended up there this year with leg issues. Although he may be solid defensively, he is not a utility type of player. He has spent practically all of his career at the hot corner. But Jed Lowrie is expected to be the new third basemen so if Frazier is not willing to learn to play other positions, he will either need to be okay with riding pine or will have a little help from Brodie Van Wagenen finding a new team to play for.
Another piece of this situation for Van Wagenen to take into consideration is the financial aspect of both players. McNeil is going to make a lot less compared to Frazier’s projected nine million dollars. Is it worth paying that for a guy who cannot produce? That is a question that needs to be addressed. Also, that money could easily be reinvested into another bullpen piece or even a bigger named free agent.
With the signing of Jed Lowrie, Mickey Callaway and the front office has a pretty big decision to make. Keep the veteran Frazier, or go young and keep the versatile McNeil. If Frazier is not moved prior to Spring Training, this is something to keep an eye on once the team heads for Port St. Lucie in a little less than two months.