The Mets’ additions of Robinson Cano and Jed Lowrie have eaten up most of the infield at-bats that would’ve otherwise gone to breakout 2018 rookie Jeff McNeil, writes Anthony DiComo in his latest inbox column. As such, McNeil now looks outfield bound in 2019 — a role he’s only played in a total of nine minor league games. While Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto are locked into outfield spots — likely in center and right field — McNeil will join Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton in the mix for additional outfield playing time. (Yoenis Cespedes’ status for the 2019 season is uncertain following surgery on both heels.) It’s curious to see McNeil to a more limited role after the 26-year-old burst onto the scene with a .329/.381/.471 slash in 248 plate appearances, though surely the organization feels its depth on the position player side is formidable. For those wondering, DiComo notes that Todd Frazier isn’t likely to be moved coming off a career-worst year, adding that GM Brodie Van Wagenen indicated Frazier is expected to receive regular at-bats at the infield corners. It’s somewhat curious, then, that the Mets chose to deepen their infield mix with Lowrie rather than add a reliever like Adam Ottavino, who agreed to a $9MM annual salary on a three-year deal with the Yankees yesterday.
Here’s more from the National League East…
- Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald provides an update on a sleepy Marlins offseason, explaining that the club is still waiting for some bigger things to fall into place before adding to its roster. Beyond the obvious fact that the rebuilding club is waiting to see what players might fall through the cracks in free agency, the Marlins are not particularly interested in making moves before lining up a hopeful trade involving star catcher J.T. Realmuto. That deal could return some MLB pieces, which would dictate the team’s further needs. Jackson also reports that Miami would like to add a lefty bat who can play both the infield and the outfield — a perplexing target considering the fact that the Marlins cut Derek Dietrich, who fits that description to a tee, rather than pay him a projected $4.8MM salary. Jackson again notes that right-hander Dan Straily is available, though Miami isn’t shopping him and would be happy to have him in the rotation in 2019 if a solid offer doesn’t materialize.
- The Braves likely wouldn’t offer Craig Kimbrel more than three years to bring him back to Atlanta, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com, and even then, the average annual value Kimbrel figures to seek could prove prohibitive. The outfield and the rotation, it seems, are still larger priorities for Atlanta decision-makers. Bowman notes that the Braves have not pursued Adam Jones in free agency despite a clear corner outfield opening, instead citing Nick Markakis as the likeliest free agent for the team to pursue.