Juan Lagares proved yesterday exactly why he still has value to this team.
In the bottom of the second inning, Washington Nationals catcher Pedro Severino hit a single into center field. Brian Goodwin tried to score from second on the play, but Lagares threw a laser right to Travis d’Arnaud who blocked the plate and got the tag on him to record the out. This allowed the Mets to get out of the inning unscathed in what led to a 3-2 victory.
Here’s the play as a point of reference:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 7, 2018
So, as we have seen in the past, that is his most valuable skill. He is going to be here because of his defense.
However, so far, albeit in a limited sample size, he has proven to be effective offensively. He is 6-13 this season with all the hits being singles, along with one walk, strikeout, and run.
Plays like yesterday, though, are what makes everyone reconsider the idea of trading him. Sure, he is the fifth outfielder on this team right now. Maybe he is a little overpaid with a $6.5 million salary this season. It also is possible that his offensive production thus far will dissipate over the course of the season.
Despite all of that, he is still the only true center fielder on this roster and is by far the best defender at his position on this team.
Now, does that mean he should play every day?
Absolutely not. It does mean that he should not just be moved in a salary dump move. Instead, they would be better off picking and choosing their spots to start him while using the 29-year old as a late-game defensive replacement in the remainder of those games.
As one of only two right-handed hitting outfielders on the team, they could easily use him against lefties with some sort of regularity.
Is this worth the salary he is making? Maybe not, but it is something that fills a need on this team. The Mets can use his defense, especially as a team that relies so heavily on their pitching.
Also, those outfielders, outside of Bruce, happen to have lengthy injury histories that could make it important to have an outfielder that could step in and start if the need arises.
Yesterday’s play serves as a reminder of why he is still valuable to this team.