The Khalil Lee saga is over.
The final nail in his coffin was a domestic violence charge. That’s a very serious situation that will hopefully play out in the courts with appropriate justice, whatever that may be. It’s not my intention to make light of the situation. However, my belief is that Lee’s Mets tenure should have ended due to his inability to make enough contact with the ball. Especially given his dismal production last year in his second season in Triple-A.
In 2021, Lee put up a .951 OPS at Syracuse and had many thinking he was a future starter in Queens. The only problem was that shiny OPS came with a .402 BABIP and a 29.6 K%. The former wasn’t likely to repeat but the latter was a near certainty to happen again. Back in Triple-A for most of 2022, Lee posted a .692 OPS with a .314 BABIP and had a 33.3 K%.
Nothing about that screamed future MLB piece, much less starter, much less star. Yet the Mets kept him on the 40-man roster, at least because there were no outfielders ready to take his spot. It was no harm, no foul until the Mets signed Tommy Pham. That signing was certainly a foul in and of itself. But to add insult to injury, the Mets 40-man roster was full and they had to open up a position for Pham.
In an ideal world, they simply swap Pham for Lee. But the Mets instead cut LHP Tayler Saucedo, who got picked up by the Mariners. Saucedo was an interesting pitcher, a lefty with crossover potential due to his sinker. He may not turn out to be much of a loss. But to me he had a much, much higher probability of contributing … something to the Mets than Lee and it was a pretty giant mistake to cut him first.
Shortly after the domestic violence charges became public, the Mets DFAd Lee and signed Sam Coonrod, who has been awful in four stints in the majors. In isolation, Coonrod is an okay 40th man on a 40-man roster. But when you look at the big picture, my opinion was that Saucedo had much more upside. Yet he was lost so that they could keep a guy with a giant hole in his swing.
Generally, Billy Eppler has done a fine job as Mets GM. But it’s hard to look at the Pham-Lee-Saucedo thing as anything but a disappointment in the utilization of two 40-man roster spots.
The only saving grace is that the lottery ticket that the Mets gave up to get Lee originally has not paid off for Boston. Freddy Valdez had a .689 OPS as a 19 year old in the FCL in 2021, which wasn’t bad. But he followed it up with a .574 mark in the same league last year. And that was not good at all.
There’s still a chance that Valdez puts it all together and has something of a career, however small that chance may be. If before the domestic violence charges came to light, you offered me Valdez for Lee, that’s a trade I would have made 100 times out of a 100. A 1% chance of making an MLB career is better than a 0.005% chance. Now, after the domestic violence accusations, that chance for Lee has likely disappeared completely.