6:41pm: Inciarte will earn a prorated $1.1MM salary for any time he spends in the majors with the Mets, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (on Twitter).
3:34pm: The Mets have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran outfielder Ender Inciarte, reports SNY’s Andy Martino (Twitter link). The longtime Braves center fielder spent the first portion of the season with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate but was released last week.
Inciarte has yet to crack the major leagues this season after signing a minor league deal with the Yankees over the offseason. He generally played well over his Triple-A time, posting a .252/.336/.408 line with four home runs and stolen bases apiece through 116 trips to the plate. Inciarte walked at a robust 11.2% clip while going down on strikes only 14.7% of the time, and his overall offensive output was about league average.
Continued passable production at the plate could eventually get Inciarte another look in the majors, as he’s a well-regarded defensive player. A three-time Gold Glove award winner with Atlanta, he’s capable of suiting up at all three outfield spots but has seen most of his time in either center or left field. Inciarte’s defensive numbers have fallen from their elite heights as he’s gotten into his 30’s, but he’s still rated average or slightly above with the glove in recent years.
The bigger concern is that Inciarte’s production at the plate had fallen sharply since the 2020 campaign kicked off. The lefty-swinger has never been a great hitter, but his .286/.338/.390 career line through 2019 was more than sufficient considering his defensive acumen. Between 2020-21, however, Inciarte managed only a .200/.267/.277 mark in 220 trips to the dish. That eventually resulted in his release from the Braves, and subsequent non-roster pacts with the Reds and Yankees haven’t resulted in an MLB opportunity.
The Mets have one of the game’s best outfields, with Mark Canha, Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte suiting up on a regular basis. Backups Nick Plummer and Dominic Smith are better suited in the corners, and the center field-capable Travis Jankowski underwent hand surgery late last month. Inciarte adds some experienced depth to the upper minors alongside Khalil Lee, who presumably remains ahead on the depth chart by virtue of his spot on the 40-man roster.