Thompson, 33 in March, is coming off a frustrating season. He seemed to have a breakout in 2022, hitting 13 home runs in 80 games for the Dodgers. He struck out at a 36.5% clip but also drew walks in 12.5% of his plate appearances and his outfield defense was given strong marks. FanGraphs considered him to be worth 2.5 wins above replacement, a solid tally for barely half a season.
The Dodgers brought him back but he couldn’t maintain that in 2023. His performance was diminished in the first couple of months before he suffered a left oblique strain in early June. He was still on the injured list in late July when he was flipped to the White Sox as part of the Lance Lynn/Joe Kelly trade. He activated from the IL a few days later but continued to struggle. He finished the season with a 43% strikeout rate and batting line of .163/.285/.294. He was outrighted off Chicago’s roster at the end of the season.
The Mets will give Thompson a chance for a fresh start and add him to their outfield mix in a non-roster capacity. They have Brandon Nimmo in center field but questions in the corners. Starling Marte, who is coming off an injury-marred season, is slated to be in one corner. DJ Stewart could be in another corner after finishing 2023 on a tear, but he’s a poor defender and might be better utilized in a designated hitter/bench bat capacity. Thompson has played all three outfield spots in his career and can potentially slot in as needed. If he gets added to the roster at any point, he is out of options but has just over four years of major league service time, meaning he could be retained next year if he gets back in good form.
This offseason has seen the Mets place a particular emphasis on depth. In recent months, they have claimed Penn Murfee, Zack Short, Tyler Heineman and Cooper Hummel off waivers. They have given one-year deals to Luis Severino, Joey Wendle, Michael Tonkin, Jorge López and Austin Adams. They have also given minor league deals to Cole Sulser, Kyle Crick, José Iglesias, Taylor Kohlwey, Rylan Bannon and now Thompson.