Mets infielder/outfielder Jeff McNeil has been diagnosed with a fracture in his right wrist that was sustained when he was hit by a pitch in tonight’s game, the team announced (Twitter link via Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News). Specifically, McNeil has suffered a right distal ulnar fracture. That puts an end to his 2019 season — on the same night the Mets were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention by a Brewers victory.
It’s a sour note on which to finish an exceptional season for the 27-year-old McNeil, who hit .318/.384/.531 with 23 home runs, 37 doubles and a triple in his first full big league season. McNeil leads Mets regulars in batting average and on-base percentage, and only 12 qualified hitter in all of baseball have posted a lower strikeout rate than his minuscule 13.2 percent.
While it’s been a disastrous year for the Mets in some regards — Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia have all struggled; Jed Lowrie has taken seven plate appearances — McNeil and likely Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso have been among the club’s brightest spots. The position(s) at which McNeil is deployed in 2020 will depend somewhat on the team’s offseason maneuverings, but he’ll assuredly be in the lineup with regularity now that he’s cemented himself as a late-blooming building block in Queens. He’s seen action at second base, third base and in both outfield corners this season but could have a clearer path to regular reps at third base with Todd Frazier set to become a free agent. Then again, McNeil looked destined for regular second base work in 2019 before the Mets stunned the baseball world with the ill-fated Cano/Diaz blockbuster.
Regardless of where he lines up defensively, McNeil’s bat has proven to be among the most potent in the National League. Barring an offseason extension, he’ll continue to give the Mets an extreme bargain, playing out the 2020 campaign at scarcely more than the league minimum, given his standing as a pre-arbitration player. McNeil won’t even be eligible for arbitration until the completion of the 2021 season, and he’s under club control all the way through 2024.