The Mets’ offense is mostly set and we shouldn’t expect any more big splashes this winter. However, there’s still some work to be done.
At the moment, the only primary outfielder on the roster other than the three starters (Mark Canha, Brandon Nimmo, and Starling Marte) is Khalil Lee. He hasn’t had much big-league experience, and the 24-year-old also just slashed .211/.326/.366 with an 89 wRC+ in 418 Triple-A plate appearances in 2022.
So, it’s not shocking that the Mets are on the hunt for more of a sure thing. Plus, Lee bats left-handed and New York is in search of a right-handed hitter.
Pretty soon after the Carlos Correa situation resolved itself, general manager Billy Eppler went back to work. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported the Mets’ interest in Andrew McCutchen. SNY’s Andy Martino also mentioned the team has reached out to Adam Duvall and Trey Mancini. Last, but most certainly not least, Metsmerized’s Mike Mayer added Jurickson Profar’s name to this list.
Duvall, Mancini, and Profar are three hitters I mentioned a couple of weeks ago as potential fits for what the Mets are looking for. Cutch is a new name to add to this bunch.
Mayer quickly mentioned why certain players would fit better (or worse), but let’s dive into it a little more.
Adam Duvall and Jurickson Profar
These two are bunched together because they’re still out on the open market with hopes of landing a regular role for 2023.
Duvall was limited to 86 games last year due to injury. But in 2021, he racked up career highs in home runs (38) and RBI (113) while helping the Atlanta Braves win a World Series. His 2.7 fWAR during that campaign was also a single-season career-high mark. So, even though his 2022 numbers (87 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR) aren’t much to write home about, his agent can point to those big numbers.
But, even with all that, his 2021 offensive performance was just about league average (103 wRC+). Duvall has slugged 30-plus homers three times, but he also carries a career 89 wRC+ and a 30.9% strikeout rate with him into 2023.
Profar had his best overall year in the big leagues for the San Diego Padres in 2022. The 29-year-old slashed .243/.331/.391 with 15 homers, 58 RBI, and 82 runs scored. His performance led to a 110 wRC+ and a career-high 2.5 fWAR. He spent the majority of his season in left field for San Diego, but Profar has played all over the diamond.
There are several teams pursuing Bryan Reynolds. So, depending on how that situation plays out, an outfield-needy team may turn in one of their directions. That’s probably what they’re both hoping for.
Mancini switched teams at the trade deadline and won a World Series with the Houston Astros. That was certainly worth it for him, but his individual performance suffered. The right-handed hitter posted just a 77 wRC+ and -0.5 fWAR in 186 plate appearances following the trade deadline.
A couple of things are attractive about a potential Mancini-Mets union. He’s consistently shown the potential to slug 20-plus homers, and manager Buck Showalter is familiar with him during their days in Baltimore. He could also take Darin Ruf’s job as the primary backup for Pete Alonso while grabbing DH at-bats.
Mancini has been an everyday player throughout his career. His numbers against left-handed pitching (.790 OPS, 112 wRC+) are nearly identical to his performance against right-handed pitching (.786 OPS, 111 wRC+). He could run with full-time DH duties, which would lengthen the bench by making Daniel Vogelbach more of a pinch-hitter.
Andrew McCutchen has a terrific MLB resume, but his best days as a player are behind him. However, signing him would be immaculate for the vibes.
He’s another veteran with a great clubhouse presence that would certainly be a positive for New York. On the field, Cutch’s 98 wRC+ and .700 OPS in 2022 were both career-low marks. The other thing to think about would be how he’d adjust to not playing every day. Outside of his rookie year (2009), 2019 when he got hurt, and the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, he’s played in at least 130 games per season during his career.
Who fits the best for the Mets?
This is a question that can be answered in a couple of different ways. Each of these players brings defensive versatility to the table, which is something the Mets value. None of them is a perfect fit as that extra bat the team needs. But, that’s what happens at this point in the offseason.
Profar is attractive because he had the best overall year in 2022. He doesn’t provide the type of power New York probably wants, though. McCutchen would be a good clubhouse presence and a legit fourth outfielder if he were open to such a role. Mancini and Duvall would make the most sense given their propensity for power and ability to play multiple positions.
If I had to power rank these four hitters when it comes to how they’d fit on the Mets, it’d be Duvall, Mancini, Profar, and McCutchen. Depending on how things shake out in the free-agent market, it may be down to Mancini or McCutchen. I’d prefer Mancini over Cutch, but it’s possible the Mets end up with the former National League MVP.