Frazier Injury Leaves Questions Surrounding the Infield

The New York Mets have made a string of roster adjustments across the past 24 hours. While the Matt HarveyDevin Mesoraco swap played headliner, perhaps the most pressing issue for the team going forward will be finding a viable substitute for third baseman Todd Frazier, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a tight hamstring.

Infield prospect Luis Guillorme was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas last night while Jose Reyes assumed hot corner duties in a discombobulating 7-2 loss that saw the Mets strike out 11 times against a miserable Cincinnati pitching staff.

In 42 plate appearances this season, Reyes is sporting a paltry .367 OPS, and his -0.3 oWAR is second to last among Met hitters (Tomas Nido, who was optioned to make room for Guillorme, occupies the bottom spot at -0.4). Since his 2016 debut at third, Reyes’ defensive runs saved and ultimate zone metrics have been moderately negative. Needless to say, despite his veteran influence, Reyes has done effectively nothing to deserve starting time.

In terms of big-league options, Wilmer Flores could also make his way into the shuffle, especially given his offensive merits. However, if there is even one thing Mickey Callaway took away from watching every 2017 game during his offseason, it would ideally be that Flores has no business playing third.

In 55 games, Flores cost the Mets eight defensive runs, while turning as many double plays as he committed errors (as a point of reference, Todd Frazier’s double play to error ratio was a confident 39:13). Replacing a player who ranked third among 34 third basemen last year with 7.8 UZR  with somebody who ranked 25th would be a fatal misstep.

That said, if the Mets are looking to preserve their offense going forward, Flores could certainly suffice at second base while Asdrubal Cabrera holds down the fort at third. Interestingly enough, such an alignment could actually benefit the Mets best from a defensive perspective.

While Cabrera has only committed one error in 32 games at second this year, his 3.45 range factor per nine innings is nearly a full point below the league average. Meanwhile, in 350.1 innings at the hot corner last season, Cabrera played arguably his best defense, saving six more runs than he did at second while building versatility. On the other side, Flores saved seven more runs at second than he did at third.

From a defensive aspect, even with the statistical differences, it’s easy to tell Flores is no Doug Flynn. Nonetheless, such a configuration best protects the Mets from sure disaster along the left side of the infield. If they choose to prioritize defense, however, Luis Guillorme may be the more reasonable alternative.

In 28 games in Las Vegas this year, Guillorme has hit .300/.394/.433 with one homer and 15 runs batted in. While Guillorme’s prospect status has blossomed on both the offensive and defensive fronts the past year and a half, it’s important to bear in mind that he has never played even one of his 497 minors games away from the middle of the diamond. He would no doubt take the reigns at second while Flores would likely remain the utility man.

Of course, Guillorme is no guarantee to hit in New York as he did a prospect in Binghamton and Vegas, as the ghosts of Matt Reynolds and Dilson Herrera can confirm.

Even Gavin Cecchini, who could also find a path to the majors if Guillorme struggles, has failed to contribute much beyond his .217/.270/.301 line across his first 89 plate appearances. Ty Kelly has put up unseemly numbers in Triple-A, including a .963 OPS and 22 RBI.

However, his career .211/.297/.340 periphery in the bigs and current status outside the 40-man roster both render an imminent promotion unlikely. Phillip Evans could be an alternative, but his two extra-base hits in 41 plate appearances do little to separate him from an established defender in Guillorme.

There have been no updates on either T.J. Rivera or David Wright over the past week. Rivera was reported a possibility to return “sometime in May,” but it’s hard to see him emerging from a cryptic recovery process before Frazier, who is essentially resting to treat a nagging ailment. Wright is wrapping up his last week of recovery before he can continue baseball activities, but nothing has been made of his condition since the reports first emerged in March.

About Jack Hendon 141 Articles
Jack Hendon (@jack_hendon99 on Twitter) is a sophomore at Haverford College, special assistant/statistician for the baseball team, prospective English major and psychology minor, and contributor to MetsMerized Online. He was seven when he saw Carlos Beltran take strike three in the 2006 NLCS, and since then has concentrated his love for the Mets through writing about particular fan memories, while also devoting time to recapping games, analyzing pitchers, and heckling (when appropriate) at Citi Field. LGM!