The Mets need a replacement for Jose Reyes

The Mets have several areas where they need improvement going into 2019, especially the bullpen, but also the catching corps, and first base is iffy as well. One area of need that has not gotten much attention is utility infielder. They need a player good enough with the glove to backup Amed Rosario at shortstop, as well as to fill in at second and third bases as needed. This is the role free agent Jose Reyes played for the team in 2018, although not very well. How should the Mets proceed for the coming season?

Technically, Reyes could replace himself and assume the role he played last year, but that is highly unlikely. He was bad in the field and worse at the plate last year, and he will be a year older in 2019. Undoubtedly he would come cheaply, but most fans would agree time has passed by this once great Mets infielder.

There is some buzz about a reunion with free agent Asdrubal Cabrera, who was dealt to the Phils last year during the pennant race. The switch-hitter can play anywhere in the infield, but his defense is sub-par at all those spots, especially shortstop. He had a decent overall season at the plate, (.262/.316/.458,) but there is a big red flag about that production. For the second half of the season he slashed only .228/.283/.401, and if he hits like that second half offense again in 2019 he would not be much help to the Mets.

There is one name on the list of free agent shortstops/utility infielders who could be a good fit for the backup infield spot, and that would be Adeiny Hechavarria. Hechavarria played for three clubs in 2018, totaling 94 games. His last team was the Yankees, who obtained him when Didi Gregorius got injured.

Hechavarria has mostly played shortstop in the majors, but he has seen time at second and third base as well. He will be 30 years old next season, so he is a few years younger than both Reyes and Cabrera. With the bat, Hechavarria put up a slash line of .247/.279/.345. Not good certainly, but a lot better than what the Mets got from Reyes last year.

Hechavarria does bring respectable defense to the table. FanGraphs had his UZR rating at 1.7 playing shortstop, a distinct improvement over the negative figures posted by Reyes and Cabrera.

The Mets already have a bat-first utility infielder in Wilmer Flores, but not many fans would want to see him playing short or even third. Hechavarria is the kind of player who is affordable, and who could provide acceptable defense as a fill-in at short second or third, and who will provide more offense than the kind of black hole level stats that Reyes produced last year.

The Mets have had some effective utility players in the past, think Al Weis and Joe McEwing, among others. It would be nice if Hechavarria or another acquisition could provide similar defense and occasional pop in 2019.

17 comments for “The Mets need a replacement for Jose Reyes

  1. Michael
    November 27, 2018 at 9:38 am

    It wouldn’t bother me to see Cabrera come back and take over 3rd permanently. Let Frazier back up 3rd and play 2nd when needed. True that Cabrera had a terrible second half batting .228 for the Phillies but look at Frazier’s last 3 years with BAs of .207, .222 and .213. Frazier may have a little better glove at 3rd but that’s it.

  2. November 27, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Sign Marwin Gonzalez who can play infield and outfield that saves a spot for the pen or a third catcher. Provides the team with added flexibility. Something the previous regime knew nothing about.

  3. November 27, 2018 at 10:10 am

    The Mets don’t need a replacement for Jose Reyes. Should Amed Rosario get injured the Mets would be able to either slot Gavin Cecchini up for short-term work or promote their #1 prospect, Andres Gimenez, to take a stab at the majors.

    The Mets need more (and more consistent) offense from first and third base. Part of this will come from Peter Alonso (hopefully) but Todd Frazier’s bat now looks like a dead part of our lineup.

    The Mets also need consistent defense and (ideally) offense from catcher which they aren’t likely to get from Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki’s tandem.

    Additionally the Mets need a closing pitcher and, at least, 1 high leverage reliever to bolster their mediocre and inexperienced bullpen. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo were very good and the Mets have talented arms but they need more pieces to make the puzzle fit.

    Before I replaced Reyes I’d even look into getting a true center fielder but that leads the Mets into not having a home for Jay Bruce.

    Signing a backup shortstop is not a priority in my book.

    • Eraff
      November 27, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Marwyn Gonzalez checks a lot of Boxes that the Mets need filled. Cabs is a consideration as well.

    • Chris F
      November 27, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      I totally agree David. TJ will come back too. what Reyes offered can be provided almost for free with in house talent.

      Marwin is something to think about but not a top priority.

      Also, seems to be breaking news on the Mets being real interested in Cano…he can be starter and utility guy and dealer in the “dark arts” to bring along the Rosario’s of the world. SMH.

  4. TJ
    November 27, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Word is that Jose has begun training for 2019 ad is in the best shape of is life.

  5. November 27, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Cano as a Starter and Utility Guy…??? I’m in disbelief that this is a real topic

  6. November 27, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Jose Reyes had a 63 OPS+ last year, which was ridiculously bad.

    Joe McEwing was worse than that in four of the five years that he played with the Mets. Al Weis was worse than that all four years he played for the Mets.

    It’s wonderful that guys are willing to stand at numerous positions on the field. Doesn’t mean they can actually play those positions defensively and it certainly doesn’t mean they can hit at an acceptable MLB level.

    Let’s aim higher than that.

    • John Fox
      November 27, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      I should have picked my comparable Mets utility infielders better. How about Kelly Johnson, his OPS plus his last season with the Mets (2016) is way better than Jose Reyes last year.

    • November 27, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Outside of 2001 I hated Mcewing and was very happy when he was cut, nice guy and good mentor to Wright.

  7. November 27, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    If something comes of the Cano rumors then maybe McNeil becomes the super utility guy but I’d rather he start at third over Frazier. I believe McNeil played some SS even last year so maybe he can fake it there occasionally.

  8. Steve S.
    November 27, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Could Mitch Haniger be a decent CFer, if he came from Seattle with Cano and Diaz?

  9. Bob
    November 27, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I’m open to suggestions as long as it doesn’t include Jose. I like the Gonzalez idea but I’m at a point where I think that we should look seriously at internal candidates. I like Alonzo at first, McNeal at second (unless we end up with Machado – then we move Rosario to second and make McNeal the reserve infielder (we need his bat if it is in fact real), Rosario at short. I like the Cabrera reserve suggestion – he is far better than Flores who’s glove scares me every time the ball is hit near him. Cano is a great second basement but will cost to much and brings some unnecessary baggage. Concentrate on the bullpen and catching. Nido and Plawecki are not a good solution. Sign Familia and a Left Handed Reliever and we’ll have a super bullpen (with Gsellman, Lugo, Smith).

    • Mike Walczak
      November 27, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      Cano will be 36 with a balance due of $ 120 million. We also can’t keep bringing back the same old junk including Cabrera. The Yankees have struck with the Paxton deal. The Braves are all in with Donaldson for a year. Gonzalez looks the utility play du jour that we need.

      I honestly want to see some movement by the end of the winter meetings. Cmon Van Halen, let’s get rolling here with your plan.

  10. November 27, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Stunned by the Donaldson Deal— $23 Mil “prove it” ?

    I’m hoping somebody pops a 4 year 40-45 mil per for Machado or Harper. Thats where this needs to go.

  11. MattyMets
    November 27, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Completely agree that a versatile infielder should be a priority, but given the uncertainty at first, Frazier’s bad year/injuries and the inexperience of the other two, I think it would behoove us to bring in either someone of Marwin Gonzalez’ caliber or else a full on starter to bump Frazier or McNeil to a super sub role.

  12. TexasGusCC
    November 28, 2018 at 12:51 am

    Your utility guy is a priority? With last five years fWAR numbers of 1.3, 1.5, 0.3, 4.0, and 1.6, this is what y’all are clamoring for? Come on guys. Then, what’s the problem with Bruce’s 1.something? Even Frazier as a black hole was at least more decent before last year than Gonzalez usually is. Also, pssst, Gonzalez has been a negative UZR just about every year in every infield spot the last five years. And y’all thought Flores was bad? LOL! What do you think the Astros have him in the outfield?

    Before the Mets do anything else, they need at least 2 relievers and a difference making catcher. We have an abundance of utility players.

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