Posted on January 11, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
It’s already been a busy offseason for the New York Mets, and it doesn’t seem like they’re done yet. On Thursday, the Mets agreed to sign infielder Jed Lowrie to a two-year deal worth $20 million. Lowrie, a former client of new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, gives the Mets a versatile and experienced infielder who can provide depth at a number of positions.
For the most part, the 34-year old Lowrie has had a rather unspectacular career. However, he’s blossomed the last couple of seasons with the Oakland A’s. Lowrie .277 with an OPS of .808 during the 2017 season and followed it up with his first all-star appearance in 2018. He also hit a career-high 23 home runs last season while also driving in 99 runs. Coming off the two best seasons of his career, the Mets thought Lowrie was worthy of a two-year commitment.
Of course, how Lowrie fits into New York’s plans is still unclear. His best position is second base, a position the Mets filled when they traded for Robinson Cano earlier this offseason. Initial reports indicate the Mets plan to utilize him as a super-utility player. At the moment, the Mets are in need of a backup at shortstop for Amed Rosario. In theory, Lowrie could fill that need. However, he hasn’t played regularly at shortstop since 2014, so he may not be an ideal choice for such a role.
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For what it’s worth, Lowrie has spent a fair amount of time playing third base. He could potentially see regular playing time at the hot corner next season. However, the Mets have Todd Frazier in line to be their third baseman for another season. Frazier had reverse splits last season, so a platoon at third base between him and Lowrie doesn’t make sense.
Unless the Mets want to move Cano to first base, blocking youngsters Dominic Smith and Peter Alonso, there doesn’t seem to be a full-time role available for Lowrie despite him accumulating over 500 at-bats in each of the past two seasons. On the off chance neither Smith or Alonso earn a spot on the opening day roster, Lowrie could play first base or head to third base with Frazier moving across the diamond. Other than that, Lowrie appears destined for a bench role with the Mets in 2019.
On the surface, the Mets signing Lowrie doesn’t make a ton of sense. He’s been an everyday player, and one of the more productive second basemen in the game, over the past two seasons. It seems unusual that he would sign with a team with no room for him in such a role. On the other hand, getting a two-year deal at age 34 is no doubt enticing for Lowrie.
As for the Mets, adding Lowrie is another message that they’re serious about contending in 2019. Rather than relying on young and largely unproven players to provide depth, they are perhaps overpaying to put Lowrie in that role. In case of injury, Lowrie could be a long-term fill-in at every infield position. Essentially, the Mets are leaving nothing to chance by signing Lowrie to fill a super-utility role.