Mets Cannot Stop at Bruce, Still Need Infielder

On Wednesday night the New York Mets finally made splash to a position player when they signed Jay Bruce to a three-year, $39 million deal.

The deal pays him $10 million in 2018, $13 million in 2019 and $13 million again in 2020. He will also receive $3 million in a sign bonus that comes in $1.5 million payments in 2019 and 2020. Bruce will also receive a five-team no-trade clause that he can change annually.

Bruce, while not a perfect fit, gives the Mets much needed depth in the outfield and insurance at first base while the Mets hope that Dominic Smith has a better sophomore season.

The Mets certainly had a need in the power department as well and Bruce set a career-high with 36 home runs in 2017, posted a .254 ISO and his 118 wRC+ was the best for him since 2012.

Bringing Bruce back makes the Mets better in 2018, but that cannot be where the Mets stop on the position player side. They still need to add at the least one infielder that can play everyday at third or second base.

If the Mets were going to play today the starting infield would be Dominic Smith at first base, Wilmer Flores at second base, Amed Rosario at shortstop and Asdrubal Cabrera at third base.

That starting infield leaves you with Matt Reynolds, Gavin Cecchini and T.J. Rivera (recovering from TJS) as options on the bench. Which makes you understand why the Mets need to add an infielder.

Flores is a nice utility guy to have around but his defense is not good enough at second or third to play in either spot everyday. Rivera, when healthy, is another player that struggles defensively and is likely better served as a role player.

We all saw how bad Cabrera is defensively at shortstop and second base. Putting him at third is the lesser of the three evils with his lack of range best suited at the hot corner.

The Mets need an infielder that can actually play solid defense, get on base and the ability to play multiple positions would certainly be a plus. This is why we keep hearing the Mets connected to Josh Harrison of the Pirates. Harrison has been a good defender at second (22 DRS in career) and at third (21 DRS in career).

Harrison would also give the Mets some speed which has been lacking the last few years but he only walks 3.9% of the time during his career (league avergae in 2017 was 8.5 BB%) and his career OBP is .321. Not exactly an ideal candidate to leadoff, which is another need for the 2018 Mets.

Then you have Todd Frazier who would be a huge boost to the Mets defense at third base (10 DRS in 2017), got on base at high clip (.344) and doesn’t strike out a ton (21.7%, league average is 21.6 K%). The problem with Frazier is that it would slide Cabrera over to second base where he was brutal in 2017 (-6 in only 274 innings).

The Mets tried to trade for Ian Kinsler but he wouldn’t okay a deal to New York. They also were in deep discussions for Indians’ second baseman Jason Kipnis and even thought to be extremely close to a deal before the Mets reportedly backed out.

Second base free agent market is pretty weak once you get past Neil Walker who is still upset with the Mets over extension talks and is coming off two straight seasons with DL stints. It’s been widely reported that the Mets see Jose Reyes as a fallback option for second base though he’s nothing more than a bench piece at this point in his career, if that.

One option that has been recently tied to the Mets is veteran Howie Kendrick. The 34-year-old hit .315/.368/.475 with nine home runs and 41 RBI that led to him having a 121 wRC+ with the Phillies and Nationals in 2017. He has always been a solid hitter, with a .291/.334/.421 career slash line that gives him a career 107 wRC+.

Kendrick played four different positions in 2017 (2B, 3B, LF, RF) while grading out below average at only one, left field at -4 DRS. He’s also played a little bit of third base in his career though his natural position is second base. Kendrick, despite productivity, would like come cheap given his age and is the type of player the Mets should be targeting with a career .334 OBP.

The last player I want to mention is Eduardo Nunez. The market for him has been almost nonexistent despite hitting .313/.341/.460 between the Giants and Red Sox in 2017. Part of the reason for that is he simply doesn’t walk at all (3.7% in 2017), isn’t a strong defender at any position (though he has played 2B, 3B, SS, LF, RF) and finished last season off with a lingering hamstring injury (Mets have already seen a fair share of those recently).

Bruce was a solid start to making sure the Mets have a competent offense in 2018, but they need to add more than just him if they want to be legitimate contenders. The next question is who among the group I discussed do they add to the infield. In a non-payroll cautious world I believe adding Frazier and Harrison or Kendrick would be the best idea to improve the defense while giving the Mets great infield depth.

 

About Michael Mayer 1045 Articles
Lifelong Mets fan born in 1987 meaning I still haven't witnessed a championship. Lived in Maine my entire life so I get my Mets fix from MLB.tv and MiLB.tv. Still playing and coaching baseball.Follow me on twitter @mikemayermmo