The New York Mets’ seemingly neverending search for infield help could soon be coming to an end, with two players emerging as favorites.
The New York Mets infield merry-go-round continues—but for how long?
Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mets have set their sights on free-agents Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez while shying away from Neil Walker, who spent the better part of the last two seasons as the team’s second baseman before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers at last year’s trade deadline.
Latest on #Mets, per sources: Nunez, Frazier currently leading infield choices. Team leery of getting used by Frazier if he prefers #Yankees,
reluctant to bring back Walker, getting no traction on #Pirates’ Harrison. Also interested in adding SP – Cobb or Lynn – if prices fall.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 3, 2018
As for Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison, who the Mets have been linked to for weeks, Rosenthal reports that they’re getting “no traction” on that front. It appears as if they’ve moved on from trying to acquire the versatile All-Star.
Frazier, 31, who is primarily a third-baseman, struggled at times at the plate last season but upped his walk rate while showing his usual pop. Splitting time between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees, Frazier hit just .213 but added 27 home runs and an OPS of .772, a tick above league average.
Nunez, 30, broke in with the Yankees and spent his career a journeyman utility infielder before enjoying a breakout All-Star season two years ago. He bounced around the diamond in 2017, playing second base, third base, shortstop and both corner outfield spots while splitting time between the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox. He was able to build on his 2016 success, hitting .313 with a .801 OPS while stealing 24 bases.
Both Frazier and Nunez would represent mild upgrades, depending upon the price tag. It was thought that Asdrubal Cabrera was going to likely be the Opening Day third baseman, but recently told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he would prefer to play second. This comes after he raised the ire of many by complaining about a potential shift across the diamond to the keystone last season.
“Third base is not easy, when they moved me over there during the season it was kind of hard for me that first month, so yeah, I prefer second base,’’ Cabrera told Kernan. “If I had the opportunity to pick a position, I would pick second base.”
The Mets also brought back Jose Reyes, who started at second after Walker’s departure but apparently prefer to use him as a utility player. Acquiring Frazier would add another bat with pop and allow Cabrera to slide over to second. Nunez who can play all over the diamond would give them more athleticism, versatility and speed giving them ample options to see how the infield would best fit together.
Another starting pitcher a possibility
Rosenthal also adds that the Mets would be interested in adding another starting pitcher, such as free agents Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn, if the price is right.
Injuries decimated the team’s rotation last season, with Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler all spending time on the disabled list. With Jacob DeGrom as their only consistent starter, the Mets finished second-to-last in the National League with a 5.01 ERA.
Entering 2018, only Syndergaard and DeGrom can be counted upon for quality innings. Adding Cobb or Lynn, while both somewhat risky additions due to their own injury histories, would give the Mets some insurance and another proven arm to lean on.