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.