Jeff McNeil May Need To Be Mets 2021 Third Baseman
With Ha-Seong Kim signing with the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets ability to obtain a third baseman grew exponentially more difficult. That’s not to say there aren’t options.
Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant remain on the trade bloc. Of course, pulling the trigger on a deal for either player is extraordinarily difficult due to the damage Brodie Van Wagenen inflicted on the Mets farm system.
Looking at the remaining free agent third base market, Justin Turner is the only everyday third baseman available. There are many obstacles with him including his age and desire to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This leaves the Mets going all-in on the aforementioned trade options or getting creative.
The creative options involve the Mets addressing second base. That could be signing DJ LeMahieu, or better yet, Kolten Wong. Luis Guillorme could be given the starting second base job he’s more than earned, or the team could go with Andres Gimenez there with Amed Rosario back at short.
These and other options are on the table so long as the Mets believe they can entrust the third base job to Jeff McNeil.
Now, last year, the Mets gave up on McNeil at third rather quickly. There were many reasons why including J.D. Davis‘ ineptitude in left. Of course, Davis was equally inept at third (again) causing this issue.
The other reason why the Mets moved McNeil from third was McNeil struggled there. In 75.0 innings, he had a -2 OAA and a 0 DRS. Part of the issue was he struggled with his throws.
This should give everyone pause, but it should be remembered 75.0 innings is the epitome of a small sample size. Another issue is the bizarre nature of the 2020 season. Taking all that into account, we shouldn’t overreact to McNeil’s third base defense.
Entering last season, McNeil had a career 3 OAA and 5 DRS at third. Of note, that was still a small sample size with his having played 173.1 innings over the span of two years.
However, while he’s doesn’t have extensive third base experience in the majors, he played over a thousand innings at third in the minors. This leaves the impression the Mets believe he can handle the position.
Well, maybe. In Sandy Alderson’s first Mets stint, he was reluctant to call-up McNeil saying he wasn’t a third baseman. When Robinson Cano was suspended, Alderson said third was “up in the air.” All told, in typical Alderson fashion, we’re still not quite sure what he thinks.
Whatever the case, McNeil is easily the best in-house option. As the options for third dry up and look all the more unattainable, he increasingly becomes the only option there leaving the Mets to replace Cano at second with someone else.
At least with second, there are plenty of very good options remaining. Unfortunately, McNeil is probably not one of those options as the Mets could very well need him at third.