The Mets bolstered their infield on Friday evening, acquiring Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson in a trade with the Braves. It cost them two minor leaguers and the money it’ll cost to pay both players through the end of the year (approximately $2.7 million).
The deal isn’t exactly a blockbuster, and it’s certainly not the type of trade that will satiate the Mets’ harsher critics, but it should still end up making a positive difference. Uribe will cover third base while David Wright is on the mend with his back injury, and has the ability to shift to another position — second base or shortstop — once he returns. Uribe could be part of a platoon, perhaps with Daniel Murphy at second base, or would be a useful bench bat. Johnson can play first, second, and third base as well as both corner outfield positions. Wilmer Flores could return to shortstop with Ruben Tejada hitting the bench, ESPN’s Adam Rubin suggests.
The Mets enter play Friday averaging 3.43 runs per game, the worst mark in the National League and only a hair better than the White Sox for worst in the majors. They’ve seen their third basemen compile an aggregate .659 OPS, the fourth-worst in baseball. At second base, they’ve gotten a .640 OPS, which ranks 23rd of 30.
Meanwhile, both Uribe and Johnson were above-average hitters with the Braves. Uribe posted an .817 OPS with seven home runs and 17 RBI in 167 plate appearances while Johnson came in at .772 with nine home runs and 34 RBI in 197 PA. Johnson didn’t present much of a platoon split, but Uribe hit left-handers extremely well (.958 OPS) and treaded water against right-handers (.658), which is why he would eventually fit well into a platoon.
The Mets are 49-47, three games behind the Nationals for first place in the National League East. The trade doesn’t move the needle by a tremendous amount, but it certainly should prove to make a noticeable difference in the final two months of the season.
All has been quiet on the David Wright front in recent weeks as he attempts to make his way back from spinal stenosis, but Mets general manager Sandy Alderson offered an optimistic update while speaking with reporters this afternoon.
According to Matt Ehalt of the Bergen Record, Alderson said the team is hopeful that Wright will be able to ramp up baseball activities when he returns to New York next week.
“He’s involved in very limited baseball activity while in California,” Alderson said before the game. “If things go as we expect now and between the end of this week I do expect him back in New York early next week and doing some baseball activity with us.”
Wright originally landed on the disabled list in mid-April with a right hamstring strain, but he soon began dealing with lower back pain and was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. He has been rehabbing in California since, which includes weekly meetings with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins. While this update from Alderson is a positive one, Wright is still a long way from joining the Mets. He’d likely require a lengthy minor league rehab assignment after such a long absence and one setback could rule him out for the remainder of the season. Still, this could be his final shot to make it back.
By the way, the Mets have insurance on Wright’s contract and have reportedly collected 75 percent of his salary since he missed his 60th day. Alderson was asked this afternoon whether the cost savings will provide the team with additional wiggle room leading up to next week’s trade deadline, but he said that it’s a “separate consideration” and it doesn’t give them “any more or less” flexibility. Who knows what that means, but there you go.
Mets manager Terry Collins gave some fairly optimistic quotes Monday regarding third baseman David Wright’s return timetable for spinal stenosis, but when general manager Sandy Alderson was asked about it later he downplayed the optimism.
Alderson told Mike Puma of the New York Post that there’s been “no change” in Wright’s status and he’s not ready to resume baseball activities yet. Wright has been out since mid-April and will almost surely require a lengthy minor-league rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list, so he may simply run out of time to play again this season.
Daniel Murphy has shifted from second base to third base in Wright’s absence, with Wilmer Flores shifting from shortstop to second base and Ruben Tejada taking over at shortstop. There’s also been some speculation that the Mets could make a trade for a veteran third baseman, with Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers being a possibility.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports is reporting that the Mets and Brewers have had trade discussions lately involving third baseman Aramis Ramirez and shortstop Jean Segura.
It’s no surprise that the Mets are looking for upgrades on the left side of the infield, as David Wright has been out since mid-April with back issues and there is no timetable for his return. The Mets hope to get him back shortly after the All-Star break, but it’s still not known how frequently he would be able to play.
Meanwhile, Mets shortstops Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada have combined to put up a .665 OPS at the position, roughly 30 points below the league average.
Neither Ramirez nor Segura have had good seasons. But Ramirez, 37, has hit better as of late and the 25-year-old Segura would be under team control through 2018. Ramirez plans to retire after the season and is owed the remainder of his $14 million salary.
The Mets began the season at 13-3, but they are just 28-37 since, even if you include Friday’s win over the Dodgers. Missing key pieces like David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, and Daniel Murphy along the way, a lack of offense has been a big reason for the slide. The Mets have scored two runs or fewer in 13 out of their last 15 games. There’s understandably a lot of frustration in the fanbase right now, but Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com yesterday that Terry Collins doesn’t deserve to be on the hot seat.
“We’re a .500 team,” the GM continued. “We haven’t been moving in the right direction — I understand that. We’ve had a lot of people hurt for a long period of time. We’ve got some young guys in particular that are not hitting. We’ve got some older players that have tried to carry the load. I think to put all of this on Terry would be grossly unfair.”
Alderson added that he doesn’t think there should be a “Terry Collins watch,” but the speculation figures to continue as the Mets go into their toughest stretch of the season. During their current West Coast trip, they have two more games against the Dodgers before going to San Francisco to play the Giants for three. They’ll go into the All-Star break with three against the Diamondbacks at home before beginning the second half with a six-game road trip against the Cardinals and Nationals. They’ll then come home for a four-game series against the Dodgers, just days before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. This stretch could go a long way toward determining whether the Mets have a real shot at contention. And if they continue to fade, it’s not a stretch to think that it could end up costing Collins his job, even if it’s undeserved.
Collins is in his fifth season as Mets manager and owns a 345-384 (.473) record. He’s in the final guaranteed year of his contract.