While the acquisitions still don’t scream big block headlines like some Mets fans would prefer, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has been adding versatile pieces like a puzzle that could add up up a winning combination.
The latest acquisition is 34-year-old infielder Jed Lowrie, who becomes another former All Star Van Wagenen has brought to Flushing, joining other recent additions such as Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Edwin Diaz, and old friend Jeurys Familia.
Lowrie was introduced to the New York media on Wednesday and the theme was that here was a very versatile All Star player (2018 was his first appearance in the Summer Classic) who has been told he’s an everyday player, yet he does not have a set position. He even has a slotted position in the lineup – “He’s an ideal fit for the number two slot,” said Van Wagenen – but where he brings his glove to the field might be a rotating wheel.
Lowrie is considered a career second baseman from his 11 years in the bigs (412 games), but ironically has more experience at short (508 games), with a fair share of time at third (145 games) and just a taste at first (11 games).
But he’s not here to displace newly acquired All Star second sacker Robinson Cano – who also has consistently played just about every game every season he’s on the roster. And he’s not here to displace Amed Rosario at short, who management believes is on the verge of seeing his potential come to the forefront. And there’s Todd Frazier at third, who still is signed for this season and is virtually a team Captain without the title. And first base is already crowded with Dom Smith hoping to prove he belongs, newly acquired J.D. Davis ready to commandeer the role, hot prospect Peter Alonso hoping to claim the bag in spring training, and last year’s hot rookie Jeff McNeil now displaced from his second base position, but hoping to find room either at first or in an already crowded outfield.
It’s a good problem to have for manager Mickey Callaway with Lowrie already spouting manager-speak when he was asked where he’ll play.
“Those things always seem to work themselves out,” said Lowrie.
Van Wagenen admitted they’re considering trying Frazier at first, which obviously would bump the aforementioned candidates, and told McNeil he’ll be spending time in the outfield.
Outfielders include a plethora of centerfielders – Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares, the newly acquired Keon Broxton, Rajai Davis…and then sometime late in the summer the big guy will be back – Yoenis Cespedes.
Camp at Port St. Lucie some four weeks from now should be a fun month of seeing where the pieces fit together.
“Versatility is something that we really wanted to create on this roster,” Van Wagenen said. “We talked a lot about making sure we were covered in the event of the inevitable adversity. We have All-Star players all around the diamond that can play at multiple positions, and that’s what I think Jed does. Jed is a versatile player that makes us better on the field, in the batter’s box, and in the clubhouse. As an accomplished switch-hitter, Jed also provides balance and length to our lineup.”
Lowrie is all in with bouncing around. “It’s about winning, and you need depth to win. I’ve been told I will be a regular, so that’s what I’m going into this with. I’m excited to be a Met.”
Lowrie’s experience in the NL is limited, having spent the vast majority of his career in the American League, with Boston (2008-11), Houston (2012 – when they were still a National League club), Oakland (2013-14), Houston (2015, when they were now AL based), and back to Oakland (2016-18).
“I’ve got a lot of work to do on a lot of (NL) pitchers at break-neck speed but I’m up to the challenge,” said Lowrie.
Once he does, the Mets should have quite a veteran dependable presence in their lineup.
The career switch-hitter enjoyed a career year last season in Oakland when he made the All Star team, with career highs – 23 home runs, 49 doubles, 99 RBIs, and 78 walks, .353 OBP, .801 OPS, and led AL second basemen with a .993 fielding percentage.
His last two seasons have been his most productive. He ranked tied for fourth in the majors with 86 doubles, seventh with a 1.54 strikeout-to-walk ratio among those with at least 1300 plate appearances, and among second basemen the last two years, Lowrie placed second in OPS (.798), third in OBP (.354), third in walks (133), fourth in RBIs (146), and seventh in runs scored (150).
The cumulative totals of his 11-year career read: .262/.335/.414, with 521 runs scored, 259 doubles, 17 triples, 104 home runs, 509 RBIs, and 438 walks in 1,109 games.
Lowrie credits his recent success to good health. After spending good portions of the ‘15 and ‘16 seasons on the DL, Lowrie says he’s healthy and ready to continue what transpired last season.
“It’s about being healthy, getting in a good routine, putting in a lot of time and effort into staying healthy. That’s not always guaranteed, so you continue to work to be on the field.”