The Mets announced today that they have outrighted Kirk Nieuwenhuis to Triple-A Las Vegas, thereby removing him from the 40-man roster (Twitter link). The transaction comes just days after the team had re-claimed the 27-year-old off waivers from the Angels, suggesting that the Mets value Nieuwenhuis as organizational depth but prefer not to spend a 40-man roster spot on him at this time.
ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin noted at the time the Mets re-claimed Nieuwenhuis that he suspected they’d try to get him through waivers because of a need to open roster spots for the injured Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy and David Wright in the near future. Gee has since been activated, while Murphy reportedly could return this coming weekend and Wright may be back at the All-Star break.
Nieuwenhuis has been a productive bench option/fourth outfielder for the Mets in recent years, carrying a career .241/.315/.393 batting line into this season. That roughly league-average production, paired with modest speed and the ability to play all three outfield spots, does seem to indicate that he can be a useful role player for a club. However, in 64 plate appearances this season, Nieuwenhuis has batted just .100/.156/.167.