Mets Internal Second Base Options

The baseball offseason hasn’t ended, which means the Mets still have time to address the second base position before the season begins.  The problem is that while there is conceivably plenty of time left to add a second baseman, the reality of the situation is the Mets options have been dwindling.

Ian Kinsler rejected a trade to the Mets.  The Mets rejected a trade for Jason Kipnis.  The team does not seem inclined to trade Brandon Nimmo for Josh Harrison as the team believes the Pirates are asking too much for a player with Harrison’s contract.

On the free agent front, Howie Kendrick signed with the Nationals.  Neil Walker doesn’t seem inclined for a reunion with the Mets.  That leaves behind a really suspect group of second baseman on the free agent market with has been stars like Jose Reyes, Brandon Phillips, and Chase Utleybeing among the top options available.  With this being the situation, the Mets should at least be questioning if they can fill the second base vacancy from their 40 man roster:

Wilmer Flores

2017 Stats: 110 G, 362 PA, 336 AB, 42 R, 91 H, 17 2B, 3B, 18 HR, 52 RBI, SB, CS, .271/.307/.488
Advanced Stats: 0.4 bWAR, 0.9 fWAR, 106 OPS+, 106 wRC+
Fielding Stats: -1 DRS, 0.1 UZR

The Mets have Flores everyone but second, which is the position he is most comfortable playing.  To be fair, Flores hasn’t exactly forced them to try with his having a career -7 DRS in 667.0 innings at the position. Conversely, the Mets did try Flores at short despite everyone in the baseball world saying it wasn’t going to work.

It is possible Flores could turn himself into an offensive second baseman who handles the position enough defensively to justify playing him everyday.  It certainly helps that Flores’ extreme platoon splits began to stabilize last season with Flores hitting a respectable .262/.306/.459 off right-handed pitching.  If he makes continued strides on that front, gets settled in and focuses on improving defensively at one position, and continues to improve as an all around player as he hits his peak years, the Mets may very well have a viable second base solution with Flores.

T.J. Rivera

2017 MLB Stats: 73 G, 231 PA, 214 AB, 27 R, 62 H, 13 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 27 RBI, SB, .290/.330/.430
Advanced Stats:0.4 bWAR, 0.2 fWAR, 100 OPS+, 103 wRC+
Fielding Stats: 0 DRS, -0.3 UZR

There are just so many questions surrounding Rivera, not the least of which about when exactly he will be able to play after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September.  Typically, position players require a shorter rehabilitation time than pitchers, but Opening Day or even before the All Star break could be asking too much of him. That’s a real shame because with his ability to hit he may very well have gotten an opportunity both last season and this year to prove the player who helped save the 2016 season is the man for the second base job in 2018.

Luis Guillorme

2017 MiLB Stats: 128 G, 558 PA, 481 AB, 70 R, 136 H, 20 2B, HR, 43 RBI, 4 SB, 3 CS, .283/.376/.331

If the Mets were making this decision purely off of who was the best defensive player available, Guillorme would undoubtedly get the call next year.  He has both the ability to make the difficult play look routine and the ability to routinely make the spectacular play.  It’s part of the reason why the Mets added him to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

The question with Guillorme has been and will continue to be his bat as he has never hit for any power at any level in the minors.  Those concerns may be overstated because Guillorme has always shown an understanding of both the strike zone and who he is as a player, and as a result, he finds a way to consistently get on base.  With that said, he should benefit from some time in Triple-A.

Matt Reynolds2017 MLB Stats:68 G, 130 PA, 113 AB, 12 R, 26 H, 2B, 2 3B, HR, 5 RBI, CS, .230/.326/.301
Advanced Stats: -0.3 bWAR, -1.2 fWAR, 69 OPS, 74 wRC+
Fielding Stats: 1 DRS, 0.5 UZR

Reynolds at second is interesting for a few reasons, not the least of which that he is likely the player to be dropped from the 40 man roster in the event the Mets go out and obtain a second baseman before the season begins.

With Reynolds, we have seen a player who is solid at any position he plays.  And Reynolds is more than willing to play them all.  At the plate, he has mostly struggled, which has only made his occassional outbursts all the more pleasantly surprising.  It would be interesting to see if he gets regular at-bats, and he works closer with Pat Roessler if he could hit enough to justify playing him everyday.  It’s not likely, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Gavin Cecchini

2017 MLB Stats: 32 G, 82 PA, 77 AB, 4 R, 16 H, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, CS, .208/.256/.273
2017 MiLB Stats: 110 G, 497 PA, 453 AB, 68 R, 121 H, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS, .267/.329/.380
Advanced Stats:-0.7 bWAR, -0.7 fWAR, 41 OPS+, 40 wRC+ (MLB), 85 wRC+ (AAA)
Fielding Stats: -3 DRS, 0.3 UZR

Heading into the 2017 season, Cecchini was coming off consecutive strong minor league seasons, and he played well in the Arizona Fall League.  Seemingly, he was on a path to become a Major League player for the Mets in the not too distant future.  This makes it all very difficult to ascertain what exactly happened to him.

His struggles could be attributed to his switching from shortstop to second base.  It could also be attributed to his BABIP normalizing.  In 2015 and 2016, two years Cecchini had good offensive numbers, he had a .348 and .357 BABIP.  Last year, it dropped precipitously to .283, which does help explain why his numbers dropped so far.

Likely, it was due to these struggles the Mets never gave him a real shot to prove himself at second base at any point last season even with the position becoming somewhat of a revolving door.  With that in mind, it likely beehoves him to spend another year in Vegas with a new coaching staff to get himself straightened out.

Overall, the Mets need to straighten out this second base situation.  Given some of the external options available to them, they would be well justified giving Flores a shot to hold the position until he proves he cannot handle the position on an everyday basis or until Rivera comes off the Disabled List.  No, that’s not an ideal situation, but until such time as the Mets are willing to take back a contract like Kipnis’ or Harrison’s, it is the position they are in at the moment.

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