Before the offseason concludes, the New York Mets need to add one more piece. Brad Miller backing up Jed Lowrie makes sense.
Despite already having a full 40-man roster, the Mets need to consider adding to their group of infielders who’ll be featured down in Florida next month.
Heading into this spring, Van Wagenen is expecting Jed Lowrie to have a “meaningful” impact after his injury-riddled 2019 campaign. Along with Lowrie, the Mets will also have infielders Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez in camp during spring training. All three players will be competing for the backup infielder spot on the Mets’ 26-man roster.
Since Lowrie was limited to just eight plate appearances in 2019, it would be smart for the Mets to acquire one more infielder before the start of spring training. The Mets could also benefit from adding a little more experience to this group, as neither Guillorme or Gimenez have earned more than 144 plate appearances at the major league level.
While there isn’t much talent left out on the free-agent market, Van Wagenen should consider signing Brad Miller to a minor-league contract which would include an invitation to spring training as well.
During this past season, the 30-year-old split time between the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies. Over his 170 plate appearances, Miller hit six doubles, 13 home runs, 25 RBI, .305 ISO, .281 BABIP, 126 wRC+ and earned a 1.2 fWAR rating along with a slashing line of .260/.329/.565/.894.
A big reason for Miller’s success at the plate is credited to a minor adjustment that he made to his swing during the 2019 season. This slight change involved Miller adjusting the angle at which his barrel would enter through the strike zone.
As a result, Miller was able to generate a career-high 47.2% FB rate and a 12.8% barrel rate. Since the left-handed batter was able to create more contact with his barrel in 2019, that rate allowed him to also produce a career-high 42.2% hard-hit rate as well.
Based on these metrics, the versatile infielder should be capable of replicating these impressive offensive results during the 2020 campaign.
If Lowrie endures another injury-filled campaign, Miller could then provide some much needed “pop” off the bench for the Mets this season. But, he’ll likely need to first accept beginning the season at triple-A for the second-straight year.
After being released by the Indians, Miller signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees in 2019 and spent the first two months of the season in the minor leagues. Once he was acquired in a trade by the Phillies, the veteran infielder served as a backup utility player and remained in the majors for the rest of the year.
Since the Mets will likely decide to begin the regular season with a five-player bench that’ll include Jake Marisnick, Dominic Smith, Tomas Nido and potentially Yoenis Cespedes, they’ll only have room for one backup infielder on their major league roster.
With Lowrie set to earn $11.5 million this season, if healthy, the 35-year-old will undoubtedly earn a role in the majors. Based on Van Wagenen’s comments from this past week, it appears that Lowrie should be fully healthy and ready to compete next month.
Unlike Lowrie, Guillorme and Gimenez, Miller is also capable of playing in the outfield. During this past season, Miller spent 102.0 innings in left field and produced a +3 DRS, 2.1 UZR along with a 31.9 UZR/150. So, the former second-round draft selection could also be recalled as an injury replacement in the outfield as well as in the infield.
Given that all three of Lowrie, Cespedes and Smith missed the majority of the 2019 season due to injury, Miller would provide the Mets with an inexpensive insurance player throughout this season.
Since Miller could potentially command a major league deal somewhere else, the Mets would likely need to attach an opt-out date to his minor league contract. For the sake of this article, let’s say that Miller could decide to terminate his deal with the Mets if he’s not in the majors by June 15.
By that date, the veteran infielder could choose to re-enter the free-agent market in hopes of landing a major league contract.
For the Mets’ sake, it would be wise for them to call-up Miller before his opt-out date. While it could be difficult to accomplish, Van Wagenen would need to exhaust all options before letting Miller walk out the door.
If he’s able to replicate his swing path from the 2019 season, Miller would be capable of making a serious impact off the bench for the Mets in 2020.
Since the Mets lacked consistent production from their reserves in 2019, if given the opportunity, Miller would help change that narrative during this season.
With spring training beginning in less than a month, the time is now for Van Wagenen to make a few last additions to the Mets’ roster. One of those moves needs to be adding Miller before someone else takes him off the open market.