The Mets have signed outfielder Travis Jankowski to a minor league contract, per a club announcement. Jankowski would earn $1.25MM upon making the big league roster, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The team also formally announced its previously reported minor league deal with lefty Chasen Shreve.
Jankowski, 30, appeared in 76 games with the division-rival Phillies last season and posted a solid .252/.364/.351 batting line through 157 plate appearances. Jankowski seldom played in a full game last year but was regularly used as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner and as a late-game defensive upgrade for the Phils. It’s easy enough to see why, as he can play any of the three outfield slots and carries a career +15 Defensive Runs Saved and +8.5 Ultimate Zone Rating through 2356 innings of defensive work at the MLB level. Statcast pegged Jankowski’s average sprint speed in the 88th percentile of MLB players.
Originally a supplemental first-round pick of the Padres back in 2012 (No. 44 overall), Jankowski has seen Major League time in parts of seven big league seasons — five with the Padres, plus a brief 2020 look in Cincinnati and last year’s showing in Philadelphia. He’s a .239/.322/.318 hitter in 1151 plate appearances at the big league level and a .321/.411/.385 hitter in 619 Triple-A plate appearances.
Barring injuries and/or trades of current players, Jankowski won’t have an immediate path to a big league roster spot with the Mets. New York currently has Mark Canha, Starling Marte and Brandon Nimmo penciled in as the starting trio, and bench players like J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith have ample experience in the outfield (as does second baseman Jeff McNeil). Younger players like Khalil Lee and Nick Plummer are ticketed for Triple-A and are already on the minor league roster.
That said, it’s widely expected that the Mets will be open to moving either Davis or Smith in the coming days and weeks, which could lead to an opportunity for a speed- and defense-oriented role player to make the roster. Even if Jankowski winds up heading to Triple-A to begin the season, he’s a nice depth option to have on hand, as virtually no team in the league will get through the season without some injuries in the outfield.