Injuries have left the New York Mets thin in the outfield. To give them some potential right-handed power, the team signed outfielder/third baseman Jose Bautista to a big-league deal.
New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway now has another player on his roster that can play the outfield in Jose Bautista. The longtime Toronto Blue Jay was recently cut by the Atlanta Braves, and he didn’t need to wait very long for another opportunity to pop up.
We’ve signed outfielder José Bautista to a one-year major league contract. Bautista will wear #11 and be available for tonight’s game. To make room on the 25-man roster, we’ve optioned Phillip Evans to Las Vegas. #Mets pic.twitter.com/Sd3UMy0zT1
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 22, 2018
It also didn’t take long for the 37-year-old to make his Mets debut. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported that Bautista hopped on a plane in Tampa to head to New York once a deal was done.
Jose Bautista hopped a flight from Tampa as soon as he and the Mets agreed to terms this afternoon. If he arrives at Citi Field in the next few minutes, he could even make his way into the starting lineup, Sandy Alderson says.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 22, 2018
Gary Cohen said on the SNY telecast that Bautista arrived at LaGuardia airport around 6:30 p.m. ET, got to Citi Field about 15 minutes later to find his name penciled into the starting lineup, batting fifth as the team’s left fielder. He even produced in his very first opportunity in New York with a double that led to his first run for the Mets.
José Bautista @JoeyBats19 conecta doble en su primer turno con @LosMets. Es su H2 #296 de por vida. #LGM #Mets #LosMets #NewYorkMets pic.twitter.com/qf1QQCooHR
— Rolando E. Fermín (@RollingJr) May 23, 2018
This signing — which is for the league minimum salary — doesn’t look great on the surface. After all, he’s become a liability on both offense and defense, and he mustered just a .143/.250/.343 triple slash through 40 plate appearances with the Braves. It’s a move that does make sense for New York, though.
As mentioned earlier, the Mets are short outfielders with Juan Lagares out for the year and Yoenis Cespedes not particularly close to returning from the disabled list himself. With Todd Frazier also on the shelf with an undetermined return at the moment, the club was lacking some pop from the right side of the batter’s box.
Heading into Tuesday night’s action, New York was slashing .212/.289/.313 against left-handed pitching. Their cumulative 69 wRC+ was second-worst in baseball. Bautista boasts a batting average of just .188 against southpaws so far this year, but is also slugging .563 off the strength of two home runs.
Although his .913 OPS in this situation has come in only 20 plate appearances, it seems like Callaway will be using matchups as a way to decide exactly how to deploy the veteran. At the end of the day, this signing may not be any more than simply gaining some depth in the short term, but that’s exactly what the Mets need right now.