Akeel Morris Was the Price of Not Re-Signing Kelly Johnson
For the second straight year, the Mets entered the season with questionable depth. The result of the questionable depth last year was the Mets were forced to raid their minor league pitching depth to build a bench and a bullpen. Overall, the Mets traded away Robert Whalen, John Gant, Casey Meisner, Michael Fulmer, Luis Cessa, Dawrin Frias, Miller Diaz, and Matt Koch. The end result was a National League Pennant and only one player under contract beyond 2015.
The Mets had the whole offseason to make sure that didn’t happen again. They didn’t. The team decided not to re-sign Kelly Johnson, and they waived Ruben Tejada. The end result was the Mets started the year with Eric Campbell on the 25 man roster. Keep in mind, the 2015 Mets which supposedly had less depth had Campbell in the minor league system.
Unfortunately, Campbell did not reward the faith the Mets placed in him. Campbell hit .159/.270/.222. The Mets were forced to move on from him. Next up was Ty Kelly, who the Mets signed to a minor league deal over the winter, and Kelly hit .111/.200/.111. Another option was Matt Reynolds, who is still up with the team, who is currently hitting .167/.231/.167. By the way, the Mets have now made it readily apparent they are not going to give T.J. Rivera a shot. Long story short there are kiddie pools with more depth than what the 2016 Mets had this season. Accordingly, the Mets were in a position where they were forced to make a move to improve their depth.
Today, the Mets traded away Akeel Morris for Kelly Johnson. This is the same Kelly Johnson the Mets thought Eric Campbell was better than in the offseason. This is the same Kelly Johnson who is currently hitting .215/.273/.289 this year.
Again, the Mets could have signed him in the offseason and not forfeited a prospect in return. Either the Mets thought Campbell was a better player and were wrong, or they made a money decision. There is roughly a $1.5 million difference between Campbell’s and Johnson’s salaries, and the Mets did release Tejada before the season in an effort to save money. Keep in mind, the Mets not only obtained Campbell in the deal, but as per Jon Heyman, the Mets also received some money in the deal as well. Because of the Mets penny wise pound foolish decisions, the Mets once again had to dip into their minor league system to address their poor depth.
This time the cost was Akeel Morris. Last year, Morris was terrific in his 23 appearance in AA. He went 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. This year, for the first time in his major league career, he is struggling. In his 22 appearances, he is 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.382 WHIP. Lost in those stats is Morris’ stuff. He can get his fastball up to 95, and he has a good changeup. With his ability to strike people out, he could have been a late inning reliever. With the development of another pitch, like the Warthen slider, he would be. If he does reach his potential, it will be with another organization as the Mets decided they desperately needed someone who is hitting worse than Kevin Plawecki this year.
Regardless of his struggles, Johnson is an upgrade over what the Mets have been playing lately. Johnson may also benefit from returning to a team where he played well last year. If Johnson does play well, it’ll be a reminder the Mets should not have let him sign elsewhere in the offseason. It will be a reminder that the mistake the Mets made a mistake in thinking Campbell was the best choice for the bench. Ultimately, the cost of that mistake is the career of Akeel Morris.