Jake Marisnick Trade Odd One For Mets
The Mets traded prospects Kenedy Corona and Blake Taylor to the Houston Astros for CF Jake Marisnick. Looking at the trade immediately, you see the Mets opted to obtain their replacement for Juan Lagares via trade rather than on the free agent market.
Marisnick will be 29 years old in 2020, and he will be in his final arbitration year before free agency. His 86 wRC+ was the second best of his career. Of course, the Mets did not obtain Marisnick for his bat (for good reason), but rather, they obtained him for his defense.
In 733.0 innings in center last year, Marisnick had a 5 DRS and 3.4 UZR. That is a step backwards from the 12 DRS and 4.0 UZR he posted in 2018. According to Baseball Savant, Marisnick had an 8 OAA, which ranked 14th best in the Majors. Again, that was a step back from his 2018 performance as he had a 13 OAA in 2018.
In terms of JUMP, Marisnick was at a 0.9 ft/avg. That’s a steep drop from the 1.7 he had posted in the 2018 season. What is interesting about that is Marisnick had the same exact 29.2 ft/sec sprint speed in 2018 and 2019. Looking at everything, it is possible this was a function of Marisnick’s stats stabilizing over a larger sample size, the standard year-to-year variations in player performance, or maybe this is a sign of his skills declining.
Whatever, the case, with Marisnick, we see a player who relies purely on speed to play the outfield. As noted by MMO’s Jacob Resnick, Marisnick has relatively poor reaction time, but he has “an elite burst.”
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) December 5, 2019
Looking at that, we should turn out attention to Lagares. Like Marisnick, he took a step backwards in 2019. However, unlike Marisnick, Lagares did not remotely put up good defensive numbers. In fact, Lagares had a -2 DRS, -2.9 UZR, and a 5 OAA. That was significantly down from his 5 DRS and 1.4 UZR in 2018. His 5 OAA was actually an improvement over the 0 he had in 2018.
When looking at JUMP stats, Lagares and Marisnick were essentially the same player in 2019. Marisnick had a JUMP of 0.9 ft/avg, and he covered 34.9 feet. Comparatively speaking, Lagares’ JUMP was 0.8 ft/avg, and he covered 35.3 feet. There were some areas where they were different. For example, Marisnick was a better route runner, but Lagares had a better reaction time.
When looking at Lagares and Marisnick, the key separator is their 2019 teams. Wheras the Astros are regarded as possibly the most analytically advanced organization, the Mets were among the worst. Notably, the Mets are not believers in shifting their defense, and it was one of the reasons why the Mets had the second worst DRS in the majors along with the 21st worst outfield defense.
Between the injury history and the defensive numbers, we can say Marisnick is an upgrade over Lagares. However, given the Mets problems with defensive alignment, some of Marisnick’s value is going to be hindered. The same can be said for his not playing between outfielders the caliber of Josh Reddick and George Springer.
Looking at that, you really wonder why the Mets would trade for one year of a defensive center fielder when their own analytical department will likely hinder his ability to impact the game in the way they anticipate he would. It’s also curious why they would give up two prospects to do that when they could’ve signed Lagares of made a deal for a player like Manuel Margot or Delino DeShields Jr.
Of the players sent to the Astros, Taylor is the one which stands out at the moment. After being converted to the bullpen, he was flashing 97 MPH on the gun, and he struck out 10 batters per nine. Also, the control issues which existed with his being a starter disappeared with him reducing his walk rate to 3.2 BB/9.
An important note for Taylor is he is a left-handed reliever who has platoon neutral splits. With Major League Baseball instituting a rule requiring relievers to face at least three batters, LOOGYs are being effectively eliminated. That makes pitchers like Taylor all the more valuable. Certainly, the Astros seem to know that by making this move.
Parenthetically, the Mets need to rebuild their bullpen. Taylor was a pitcher who could have been part of the equation for the Opening Day roster or during part of the 2020 season. Now, the Mets have taken a hit on their depth in an area where they needed to build depth for one year of a defensive center fielder who has shown at least some decline.
When you throw in Corona being much better than anyone reasonably could have expected in 2020, you really wonder why the Mets made this deal.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to say the Mets gave up too much for Marisnick. In terms of value, this was a fair deal. However, this is one move which could very well come to haunt the Mets, and no one should be surprised if Taylor actually has a better 2020 season than Marisnick. To that end, it should not be a surprise if this becomes one of those trades which sneaks up on everyone and has Mets fans tearing their hair out.
Taking everything into account, this is just a bizarre deal for the Mets to make. They further depleted their bullpen depth while taking another hit to their prospect capital. They also obtained a regressing defensive center fielder who will not benefit from the same analytics and positioning. In the end, it’s just a strange trade to make.