In addition to the Mets having to make decisions on players like Jerry Blevins, Yoenis Cespedes, and Neil Walker in free agency, they are going to have to make a number of decisions on their own minor league free agents. As we saw with Ty Kelly last year, minor league free agents are important because they not only provide depth at the minor league level, but they also could be players that may need to be called-up to the majors during the season. With that in mind, here is a review on some of the more notable Mets minor league free agents
Roger Bernadina, CF
2016 AAA Stats: .292/.376/.465, 65 R, 29 2B, 4 3B, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 20 SB
For the second straight season, Bernadina did not play a game in the majors. Instead, he put up what was solid offensive numbers for the Pacific Coast League. Bernadina appears to be the same player who was a decent fielder and sub-par hitter he has been throughout his career. He still has decent speed, and the Mets should consider bringing him back.
Eric Campbell, UTIL
2016 MLB Stats: .173/.284/.227, 9 R, 2B, HR, 9 RBI, SB
2016 AAA Stats: .301/.390/.447, 63 R, 15 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 7 SB
With Campbell regressing at the plate for a third straight season, he has once again proved he is really a AAAA player. He has his positive attributes which include his defensive versatility, his ability to pinch hit, and his overall good attitude. However, with the numbers, the Mets couldn’t justify keeping him on the 40 man roster anymore.
Chase Huchingson, LHP
2016 AAA Stats: 1-1, 5.93 ERA, 22 G, 1.902 WHIP, 8.6 K/9
Before his second substance abuse suspension in 2013, Huchingson was a player to watch as he made his way through the Mets farm system. While his stuff hasn’t changed, the results have with him mostly struggling in the upper levels of the minor leagues. Part of the reason for his struggles this year was his dealing with some arm soreness. At 27 years old, he may never realize his full potential, but he remains AAA depth with some upside still remaining.
Andrew Barbosa, LHP
2016 MiLB Stats: 3-0, 1.51 ERA, 16 G, 15 GS, 0.907 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
After barely making it out of A ball, Barbosa found himself pitching for the Long Island Ducks. Barbosa was dominant for the Ducks, and like many who succeed with the Ducks, Barbosa found himself a part of the New York Mets organization. In one season, Barbosa rose from Rookie Ball all the way to AAA. Even though he is 28 years old, there is still a chance Barbosa can be a contributor at the big league level (most likely in the pen). The relationship between Barbosa and the Mets was beneficial in 2016, and it should continue into 2017.
Rainy Lara, RHP
2016 AA Stats: 7-11, 5.27 ERA, 23 G, 21 GS, 1.467 WHIP, 5.6 K/9
Lara has progressed somewhat slowly through the Mets organization since being signed as an 18 year old out of the Dominican Republic. His stuff hasn’t progressed much either with him still having a low 90s fastball with a slider and changeup he still has not quite mastered. If Lara is going to make the majors, it is going to be as a middle reliever maxing it out every inning. If the Mets are interested in seeing the 25 year old try to make the transition, he would be a worthwhile player to re-sign.
There are many other minor league free agents the Mets need to make decide whether to re-sign or lose them to another team. It will be interesting to see not only who the Mets eventually do sign, but also if any of those players get to the majors like Kelly did in 2016.
Currently, MLB and many of their full season affiliates are either at or have already had their All Star Break. At each and every level, the Mets had a minor league hitter named to their level’s All-Star Game. Listed below is a synopsis of the Mets’ organizations leaders at the break:
Class A – Columbia Fireflies
- AVG: David Thompson (.294)
- OBP: Vinny Siena (.435 – League Leader)
- SLG: David Thompson (.474)
- OPS: Vinny Siena (.834)
- R: Vinny Siena (53)
- H: J.C. Rodriguez (71)
- 2B: Dash Winningham (23)
- 3B: Kevin Kaczmarski (7)
- HR: Jeffrey Diehl (9)
- RBI: David Thompson (58 – League Leader)
- SB: J.C. Rodriguez (14)
- All-Stars: Vinny Siena, David Thompson
- Promotions: Vinny Siena, David Thompson, Kevin Kaczmarski
Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets
- AVG: Wuilmer Becerra (.319 – League Leader)
- OBP: Kevin Taylor (.386)
- SLG: Tomas Nido (.471)
- OPS: Kevin Taylor (.833)
- R: Champ Stuart (49)
- H: Amed Rosario (82)
- 2B: Wuilmer Becerra (17)
- 3B: Amed Rosario (8 – League Leader)
- HR: Kevin Taylor (7)
- RBI: Amed Rosario (40)
- SB: Champ Stuart (25)
- All-Stars: Amed Rosario, Wuilmer Becerra, Tomas Nido
- Promotions: Amed Rosario, Phillip Evans, Champ Stuart
AA – Binghamton Mets
- AVG: Matt Oberste (.290)
- OBP: Derrik Gibson (.366)
- SLG: Dominic Smith (.436)
- OPS: Dominic Smith (.777)
- R: Derrik Gibson (44)
- H: Dominic Smith (85)
- 2B: Matt Oberste, Dominic Smith (17)
- 3B: L.J. Mazzilli (5)
- HR: Dominic Smith (10)
- RBI: Matt Oberste (34)
- SB: Derrik Gibson (8)
- All-Stars: Matt Oberste
- Promotions: Niuman Romero
AAA – Las Vegas 51s
- AVG: T.J. Rivera (.348 – League Leader)
- OBP: Brandon Nimmo (.409)
- SLG: Travis Taijeron (.564)
- OPS: Travis Taijeron (.953)
- R: Travis Taijeron (61)
- H: T.J. Rivera, Travis Taijeron (96)
- 2B: Travis Taijeron (35 – League Leader)
- 3B: Brandon Nimmo (7)
- HR: Johnny Monell (14)
- RBI: Travis Taijeron (69)
- SB: Roger Bernadina (12)
- All-Stars: T.J. Rivera, Travis Taijeron, Wally Backman (manager)
- Promotions: Brandon Nimmo
- AVG: T.J. Rivera LV (.348)
- OBP: Vinny Siena COL & STL (.413)
- SLG: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
- OPS: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
- R: Travis Taijeron (61)
- H: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (107)
- 2B: Travis Taijeron LV (35)
- 3B: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (11)
- HR: Johnny Monell LV (14)
- RBI: Travis Taijeron LV (69)
- SB: Champ Stuart STL & BNG (26)
* stats are updated through July 13, 2016
Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net
To put it as succinctly as possible, Alejandro De Aza has not been a good baseball player this year. He rarely plays, and when he does play, he has only served as a detriment. In 52 games, he has hit .169/.221/.247 with a 28 OPS+. To put it in perspective, everyone’s least favorite Met, Eric Campbell, is hitting .159/.270/.222 with a 37 OPS+. When you are incapable of outplaying Campbell, who is currently playing in AAA, you must question what purpose it serves having De Aza on the major league roster.
Initially, Terry Collins wanted De Aza to suceed. It was less than a month ago that Collins said he wanted to get De Aza more playing time so he could get going and put up the numbers he once did. Collins stayed true to his word as De Aza has played more in June than any other month. De Aza has played in a season high 20 games and received a season high 42 plate appearances. He has rewarded Collins by having his worst month of the season hitting .128/.171/.205. Slowly, Collins realized that whatever the reason, this wasn’t working out, and he began to look elsewhere for outfield options in the wake of Juan Lagares on the disabled list and Yoenis Cespedes being a bit nicked up. It has gotten to the point where Collins put Matt Reynolds in left for a game despite Reynolds never having played a game in the outfield as a professional.
Still, De Aza got some starts and at bats as he was the only completely healthy center fielder on the roster. However, at this point, Collins may have had enough of De Aza.
On Satuday, the Mets were locked in a scoreless game in the top of the tenth. De Aza was sent up there to bunt Wilmer Flores over to second base in the hopes that the Mets could FINALLY push a run across the plate. De Aza then popped the bunt in the air and made zero effort to get to first. This led to Braves’ pitcher Jim Johnson astutely letting it drop and completing the double play. Collins was incensed and laid into De Aza. After the game, he said, “I’ve seen [De Aza] play, and the one thing he is known for is how hard he plays. But it goes to show you — everybody gets frustrated when they don’t do the job.” (New York Post). It seems that Collins had finally had enough.
Yesterday, Collins decided to put rookie Brandon Nimmo in right field, a position he has only played 32 times in six minor league seasons and Kelly Johnson in left field. After Saturday, it is no surprise that De Aza was on the bench. In fact, the only surprise would have been if De Aza received any consideration to start.
What is even more surprising is De Aza’s presence on the major league roster. We can all agree De Aza is a much better player he has shown on the Mets, but so did John Mayberry last year. For whatever reason, it hasn’t worked for either player during their time with the Mets. The Mets were wise to cut bait with Mayberry last year, and they should do the same with De Aza this year. In his stead, the Mets have a few good options in the minors that could easily replicate, if not improve, what De Aza has given the Mets this year.
First, there is Travis Taijeron. He is currently hitting .306/.392/.568 in AAA right now. He has shown powers at each level he plays, and he should be able to hit for some power in the big leagues. He is a good defensive corner outfielder that may not be able to handle center that well. However, with Nimmo on the roster, finding a backup center fielder is not as big a priority right now.
If the Mets wanted to go with a true back up center fielder and a player with big league experience, they could go with Roger Bernadina. Bernadina has played a steady center field over his major league career. Over his last three major league seasons, he averaged a -0.2 UZR and a 0.7 DRS in center fielder. These are unspectacular numbers, but it goes to show you he will not hurt the Mets if he is needed to play center field.
At the plate, he is a .236/.307/.354 major league hitter. However, Bernadina played in the minor leagues all of last year. Given what De Aza has done this year you’d be hard pressed to say Bernadina’s career numbers wouldn’t be an improvement. In AAA, he has hit .298/.384/.466, which coincidentally, is very similar to the .276/.383/.466 he put up in the Pacific Coast League last year. At a minimum, you can say that Bernadina is not a player in decline like Mayberry was last year and De Aza seems to be this year.
Given the Mets current World Series aspirations, they can ill afford to wait for De Aza especially since he looks dejected out there. He is forcing the Mets hands to make a move similar to how the Mets made a move on Mayberry last year. With Taijeron and Bernadina in the minors, the Mets can and should release De Aza and call-up a player who promises to put up better production.
Overall, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Yoenis Cespedes‘ 2016 season isn’t a disappointment. He’s expected to break Barry Bonds (or Roger Maris‘) single season homerun record, Hack Wilson‘s single season RBI record, and find a cure for cancer. Yes, this is hyperbole, but it’s really not that far from what’s being expected of him.
After his incredible run last year, Cespedes has set the bar sky high. When he came to the Mets, he played the best baseball of his life. It was some of the best baseball anyone has ever seen. More than anything, this has been the reason why he’s had all the attention surrounding him. If Tim Teufel had these cars, it would be an amusing antidote, but it wouldn’t be the focus of each and every day this Spring.
Look, the Cespedes’ car thing has been terrific. It’s added some fun to Spring Training. We’re talking about this instead of Terry Collins leaving in Matt Harvey, David Wright‘s back, Jacob deGrom tweaking his groin, Alejandro De Aza‘s possible discontent, or Roger Bernadina having visa issues. No, the Mets are having a fun camp in large part due to Cespedes.
That’s is unless you’re John Harper of the Daily News:
Just as Mets fans were quick to turn on Harvey during the innings-limit controversy last season, citing his look-at-me tendencies, they’ll tire quickly of hearing about Cespedes’ lifestyle if he doesn’t put up big numbers.
Same goes for the clubhouse. Teammates will gladly accept Stsr behavior as long as it comes with star performance. And certainly Cespedes has earned plenty of slack in this area, having astonished his fellow Mets with his offensive exploits last summer after coming over from the Tigers on July 31.
Why are we preemptively chastising Cespedes? Keep in mind, this is the same writer that despite knowing all of the “issues” Cespedes presents, he implored the Mets to re-sign him. Now that he’s here, what’s the point of tearing him down?
Cespedes was everything the Mets thought he would be and more last year. So far, he has been everything we thought he would be this Spring Training. It makes sense that the guy with the neon yellow arm sleeve and the 52 medallion would have an epic car collection. It makes more sense that Cespedes was going to be the focal point of this team no matter what he did. Why not have some fun along the way?
Look, his season is bound to be a disappointment. His 162 game averages are “only” 30 homeruns and 103 RBI. That’s not going to be enough for some people. That’s a shame because fans wanted Cespedes here, and he wanted to be here. No matter what Cespedes does this season that should be celebrated. Instead, the Daily News is already finding ways to tear him down.
These preemptive attacks should be driven off a cliff.
Editor’s Note: this column first appeared on metsmerizedonline.com
Yesterday, the Mets signed Roger Bernadina to a minor league deal. Anytime the Mets sign a player on a minor league deal, I think it’s a great low risk high reward move.With that said, I’m curious why the Mets signed Bernadina.
Bernadina is a 31 year old outfielder that was originally signed by the Montreal Expos. He played three full seasons with the successor Nationals before being released. Bernadina bounced around a bit since, and he spent all of 2015 in the minor leagues. He’s a career .236/.307/.354 hitter. He’s played all three outfield positions in his career reasonably well. Considering the Brandon Nimmo injury and the Darrell Ceciliani trade, this was a good depth move. Or was it?
His current deal with the Mets he has a June 15th opt out clause. That’s the same day the Mets can trade Alejandro De Aza without any restrictions. This begs the question whether Bernadina was signed as minor league depth, or whether he was signed so the Mets could trade De Aza? Is Berndina slated to be the fifth outfielder or is he really just depth to protect against injury?
Time will tell. In either scenario, this was a solid organizational depth move by the Mets.