The New York Mets are after Jason Kipnis, but they must resist the temptation to settle for less with Jed Lowrie.
The New York Mets have been after a second baseman all offseason, and are looking to get Jason Kipnis from the Indians to fill that role. ESNY’s own Zachary Weisleder already made the argument that the Mets need to go get him.
General manager Sandy Alderson has had a quiet offseason so far but has a chance to make a splash. He added Anthony Swarzak, but that isn’t enough. He needs to do more. While Kipnis is the ideal pickup for the Mets, there are other options on the trade block that the team could explore.
One of them is Oakland A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie, who could be on the move according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Lowrie would no doubt cost the Mets less to get than Kipnis would. However, paying up for Kipnis is the better approach for three reasons.
Past production is a big reason Kipnis serves as the better option, despite last year’s struggles. Last year Lowrie was significantly better than Kipnis, slashing .277/.360/.448, while Kipnis struggled to a final line of .232/.291/.414.
However, Kipnis has had better career numbers, slashing .268/.340/.422, while Lowrie has gone .261/.332/.408 in his 10-year career. Kipnis has generally been the better hitter than Lowrie, and he can be expected to improve upon his disappointing numbers last season, as he struggled with injuries which limited him to only 90 games with the Indians.
Kipnis is a two-time All-Star who has had a good amount of success in the league. While he may never return to his form from his All-Star seasons, in 2016 he slashed .275/.343/.469, which he should be able to reproduce.
One knock on Lowrie is that he has struggled when playing for teams that aren’t the A’s. Lowrie has spent time with the Red Sox and Astros, slashing .252/.324/.408 with Boston and .235/.323/.423 with Houston. His numbers have dipped away from the A’s, who do have a history of having players struggle after they leave the friendly confines of Oakland.
Finally, the Mets are looking to add a base-stealing threat to the lineup. Lowrie has stolen seven bases in his 10-year career, while Kipnis has at least 12 stolen bases in every year in which he played 100 or more games. He’s not a blazing speedster, but he can snag a few extra bases for the Mets.
The second big reason the team should get Kipnis is his contract. Kipnis is signed through 2019 with a team option for 2020, while Lowrie is a free agent after 2018.
There’s no point in giving up assets to get a player that could be gone after next season, especially when there is a better option available that will be under team control for a longer period of time.
Kipnis’ contract will keep him in town for at least two seasons, possibly three. That should bring the team to the point where Luis Guillorme is ready to come up from the minors and pair with Amed Rosario up the middle.
The final concern is much simpler, namely the age difference between the two players. Lowrie will turn 34 in April of next season, while Kipnis will turn 31 in April. Kipnis’ contract will expire when he is younger than Lowrie is now.
34 isn’t old by any means but if the Mets can bank on a younger player for a longer period of time, the payoff would be worth it.
The time for settling is over. The Mets need to put together a team that can start to look like they can start building for the future.
Overall, the Mets need to make the smart move and pay up for Kipnis, rather than settling for Lowrie.