The Mets are known to be interested in adding a left-handed bat that can at the very least serve as a platoon partner for right-handed-hitting Juan Lagares, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports that they’re interested in Denard Span, Will Venable and Alejandro De Aza to fill that void. Span has been connected to the Mets multiple times in the past, and the reportedly plans to meet with his camp in January. Venable and De Aza, however, have not been connected to the Mets beyond speculation, to this point. (De Aza, in fact, has scarcely been mentioned on the rumor circuit in connection to any club this winter.)
Crasnick hears that Span is the “preferred choice,” but questions about his health and agent Scott Boras’ stated desire to land a multi-year deal for his client are complicating that picture right now. Newsday’s Marc Carig did report fairly recently that the Mets aren’t closed off to the idea of giving Span multiple years, though I’d imagine they’ll need to see him prove his health in next month’s showcase for that scenario to play out. Span missed much of the season with lingering issues from sports hernia/core muscle surgery last offseason and ended up having hip surgery this offseason as well.
When healthy, Span has proven to be a quality player on both sides of the ball. Over the past four seasons (one in Minnesota and three in D.C.), Span has batted a combined .290/.344/.402, averaging six homers and 27 steals per 162 games played. Of course, a concussion back in 2012 and this past season’s injuries have limited him to an average of 122 games per season in that time. Defensive metrics have traditionally been bullish on Span, though his UZR and DRS grades this season dipped significantly as he battled through injuries over the course of the season. It strikes me as unlikely that Span would be on board with a straight platoon; though his numbers are better against right-handed pitching, he’s still posted a respectable .274/.351/.364 batting line against lefties in his career (though he’s struggled against them a bit more in 2013 and 2015).
Venable and De Aza, on the other hand, are more familiar with platoon work. Venable is a career .256/.324/.422 hitter against righties and has had his bottom-line numbers suppressed, somewhat, by calling Petco Park his home stadium for nearly all of his career. (Of course, New York’s Citi Field isn’t exactly a hitters’ paradise in its own right.) Venable has drawn positive marks in center over the course of his career, though he’ll play next season at age 33 and isn’t a premium defender in the first place, so something like league-average or even slightly below-average defensive work is probably a more realistic expectation than plus glovework.
De Aza, 32 in April, is a somewhat similar tale. His lifetime .274/.338/.418 line against righties is solid, if unspectacular, and his recent work in center field hasn’t been viewed favorably through the lens of DRS and UZR. (He also hasn’t played center with any sort of regularity since 2013, when he posted a -18 DRS mark.) De Aza, though, was more productive at the plate in 2015 than Venable, hitting .278/.351/.448 against right-handed pitching. I’d imagine that either Venable or De Aza could be had on a one-year deal or perhaps a two-year deal with a lower annual value — something like $10-13MM in total, as we’ve seen from Rajai Davis, Nate McLouth, David Murphy and, most recently, Chris B. Young.
It’s also worth noting that Crasnick gets the sense (Twitter link) that the Mets aren’t particularly enamored with Gerardo Parra. New York may believe that Parra’s defense has slipped in recent years, per Crasnick, and he’s also seeking a multi-year deal worth more than the Mets are comfortable paying. Parra, reportedly, has received three-year offers and is hoping a club will push to a fourth guaranteed season on a deal. If that’s the case, it does seem more likely that it’d come from a club that planned on utilizing him in an outfield corner as opposed to in center field.