Mets Should Strongly Consider Designating Jed Lowrie For Assignment

Due to injuries last year, Jed Lowrie was limited to just eight pinch hitting appearances. In those eight pinch hitting appearances, he would strike out half the time and draw just one walk. Obviously, this was a far cry from the player the Mets thought they were getting when they signed him to a two year $20 million deal.

When the Mets did sign Lowrie last year, it looked like a coup. It was a very reasonable deal for the 2018 All-Star. As a leader for the surprise Oakland Athletics, he would hit .267/.353/.448 with 37 doubles, one triple, 23 homers, and 99 RBI.

His 123 wRC+ and 4.8 WAR was the fourth best among Major League second basemen. As a switch hitter who has experience playing three of the four infield positions, he was a versatile, experienced, and mostly good baseball player. His presence was supposed to allow the Mets to rest Robinson Cano and allow the Mets to use Todd Frazier more as a platoon type player and defensive replacement.

Of course, that would never happen.

It started with what was diagnosed as a capsule strain in his left knee during Spring Training. When it was first diagnosed, it was anticipated he would be ready for Opening Day, but the timeline for his return would be pushed back time and again.

There would also be a rehab stint which led to him being shut down before he resumed a late August one. During that second rehab assignment, he was not able to play more than seven innings in the field, and he did not play more than two consecutive days in the field. As we know, he would not play in the field during his very short stint on the active Major League roster.

Now, you could chalk this up to one lost year, and if that was the case, you could expect Lowrie to be able to contribute in 2020. After all, if healthy, you have a switch-hitter who can play anywhere in the infield even though ideally he would be limited to second and third at this point in his career. The problem with that line of thinking is the Mets don’t have the best track record dealing with injuries, and worse yet, they don’t know what is actually wrong with Lowrie.

Being well aware of the situation, the Mets are reportedly looking for ways to unload Lowrie. The problem with those efforts is Lowrie will be 36 next year, expensive, and mostly, questionable about his ability to play. Ultimately, this is the biggest reason why Lowrie is still a Met.

It’s gotten to the point with the franchise where we have seen multiple reports indicating the Mets are so desperate to unload Lowrie, they are willing to attach a real asset to entice another team to do that. The name which is mostly connected with Lowrie is Dominic Smith.

It is important to note Smith was the second youngest position player on the Mets last year. In 89 games, he had a 0.7 WAR and a 133 wRC+. For all the talk about his being “blocked,” he was a late inning defensive replacement at first, was able to play capably as a stop gap left fielder, and was a good pinch hitter.

With respect to that last point, Smith hit .286/.459/.571 in 37 pinch hitting attempts. As a reserve, he hit .318/.434/.568. He had a number of big hits in games he came off the bench including his walk-off homer to end the 2019 season. Even if you want to argue he is blocked or would be better served as a starter elsewhere, he has shown himself to be a very effective bench player for the Mets.

More than that, as it stands now, he is the only left-handed bat on the Mets bench. In an era where there are no more LOOGYs, his value in that role is of increased importance. The Mets can ill afford to just part with that for the sake of just getting rid of Lowrie’s salary.

Ideally, the Mets would just eat some or all of the contract to trade him while getting some lottery chip in exchange from a team like the Oakland Athletics or Texas Rangers. Unfortunately, the Mets don’t operate that way. They would rather part with a good player for short term savings.

At the end of the day, if Lowrie can play, you play him and see what happens. However, if he can’t play, the Mets just gave give away players like Smith who are under team control until 2025. That makes zero to little sense, and if that is the direction the Mets are going, they should just designate Lowrie for assignment because the team would be better off in 2020 and in each of the ensuing years.


4 Replies to “Mets Should Strongly Consider Designating Jed Lowrie For Assignment”

  1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    It’s not clear what the value of DFAing a player is, who might have at least some value to another team. Do the Mets need his roster spot for someone else?

    “When the Mets did sign Lowrie last year, it looked like a coup. It was a very reasonable deal for the 2018 All-Star.”

    —-It would have been a reasonable deal for a team with a hole at 2B, but the Mets as constructed already had 2 2Bmen projected for 3+ wins on the roster, had a 2 win 3Bman in Frazier and a much better player than Frazier in McNeil at 3B; and had real holes elsewhere desperately needing that 10m AAV. Looked at in the context of the entire offseason, not signing Lowrie and putting that 10m towards an elite bullpen arm obviates the rationale for the Cano-Diaz deal. The offseason as a whole was utterly incoherent, with one move bearing no relation to the next. The team already had a pro-rated 5 WAR 2Bman in McNeil, then got Cano in order not to have to pay a closer closer money, then spent closer money on Lowrie. It was bizarre to watch.

    The Mets also packaged 6 (!) minor leaguers to get Keon Broxton and JD Davis last offseason. Consider that top relievers were going for 10-13m by AAV last offseason, then imagine the talent you get for Lowrie’s 10m + 6 useful to good minor league prospects. Instead, the Mets FO did what good FO’s rarely do, particularly when it they have money to spend: traded actual minor league talent for backups. Such a waste.

    —-Think of all the talent and money spent in the last two offseasons in order to get no elite players.
    The reason Van Wagenen did this is twofold, and it’s essential to understand for anyone wanting to figure out the Mets’ strange offseasons. First, recall that he said, after getting Porcello, Wacha, and Marisnick, We made the moves we needed to make. Now we can make the moves we want to make.

    He doesn’t understand that those two things, need and want, not just overlap, but it’s crucial that they do overlap. The fifth slot in the rotation wasn’t just a hole to spackle over, a need to cross off the shopping list, it was a terrific opportunity to add a strong starter that will push the Mets to the postseason.

    Second, he just isn’t a good talent evaluator, and hasn’t learned on the job, so he spends useful minor league talent on backups. That depletes the Mets supply of tradable talent, and resulted this offseason in Van Wagenen trading for a player who is in his 3rd and final arb year–so he wasn’t even saving payroll to spend elsewhere.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Here’s the way I look at it. If healthy, Lowrie made sense because having depth is always a good thing, especially when you were counting on Cano being an impact bat. Now, due to injuries, the Mets have seen Lowrie could not possibly be the player they hoped he would be, and as a result, they needed to reassess.

      In terms of their reassessment, they see a player who can’t help them. The reason I say that is you don’t just attach a quality cost controlled depth player like Dominic Smith just to get rid of Lowrie. By pursuing that, the Mets are saying Lowrie for one year is so detrimental we have to get rid of actual assets just to put this mistake behind us.

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