Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has spoken repeatedly about eliminating the team's "ifs" for the 2019 season. Over the weekend, he executed a series of trades intended to do just that.
Time will tell if Van Wagenen and his evaluators chose the right players to acquire, or parted with a prospect who will develop into a productive major leaguer. But the GM's goal was to create contingency plans that will at least reduce the number of ifs on the roster.
Think of it this way: That lackluster "B" team that would play a day game after a night game, or on a random getaway day, or on the second game of a doubleheader, or when too many Mets were on the DL? Van Wagenen, having bolstered the "A" team with the likes of Robinson Cano and Wilson Ramos, is trying to turn the Mets "B squad" into more of a "1A" with stronger bench and more options for manager Mickey Callaway.
Van Wagenen's aggressive overhaul of the farm system has also highlighted the strong influence of new assistant GM Adam Guttridge. Before coming to the Mets, Guttridge developed a projection system for minor leaguers; over the past few months, Van Wagenen has leaned on Guttridge's insights and model in determining which minor leaguers to trade.
For a new GM trying to decide which prospects are safest to move, this information has been essential. Again, only time will reveal whether the decisions prove wise. But the methodology employed by the Van Wagenen regime is becoming more clear.
Van Wagenen's inner circle also includes Omar Minaya, Allaird Baird and John Ricco. Those three are known quantities in baseball, but Guttridge, a lesser-known figure, is clearly making his own mark on the franchise.
Here is more detail about how the Mets intend to utilize their new players:
Corner infielder J.D. Davis
In terms of reducing ifs, the team sees Davis, acquired from Houston for infielder Luis Santana, catcher Scott Manea and outfielder Ross Adolph, as a hedge against first baseman Peter Alonso not being immediately ready to contribute, and as someone who can hit left-handed pitching.
The Mets targeted Davis early in the offseason for those reasons. If he succeeds, he can ultimately become an option to succeed Todd Frazier at third base.
Outfielder Keon Broxton
Broxton has many of the same skills as Juan Lagares, but with more power. Both are strong defenders, and both are right-handed hitters. In a perfect world, Lagares is healthy and able to play center field nearly every day. But that hasn't happened for much of his career, so Broxton -- along with spring training invitee Rajai Davis -- can serve as a hedge against the "if" of Lagares.
If both Broxton and Lagares are healthy, Callaway will have the option of using them both against left-handed pitching, or playing the hot hand on a given day. Again, it's about the attempt to turn a "B" team into a "1A" team.
Starting pitcher Walker Lockett
Lockett, acquired from Cleveland for Kevin Plawecki, serves as rotation depth. In a perfect world, he will begin the year at Triple-A, but the Mets see him as a player whose potential exceeds his current results, in part because he has pitched in the hitters' paradise of the Pacific Coast League.
Relief pitcher Hector Santiago
Santiago, signed to a minor-league deal, is another depth piece for the pitching staff.