Mets decline OF Juan Lagares’ $9.5M contract option

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The New York Mets have declined outfielder Juan Lagares’ $9.5 million contract option. A wise move if there ever was one. The 2014 Gold Glove winner hit just .213 in 285 plate appearances in 2019 with 5 HRs and 27 RBIs over 133 games.

He is now a free agent joining several other 2019 Mets on the market this offseason:  Zack Wheeler, Joe Panik, Todd Frazier Luis Avilan, Brad Brach, Rene Rivera and Rajai Davis.

Lagares has been in the Mets’ organization since 2006 when he was signed as a 17 year-old shortstop out of the Dominican Republic. He was converted to the outfield shortly afterward in the Mets’ farm system.



From Anthony DiComo of Mets.com:

When he debuted in 2013 as a standout defender with some offensive potential, the Mets considered him a key to their future. When he won a Gold Glove the next season while also batting .281 with a .703 OPS, they responded by awarding him with a five-year, $23.5 million contract. That deal included a $9.5 million option for 2020, which the Mets declined on Friday. They instead paid Lagares a $500,000 buyout.

 

In addition to the Gold Glove and his .348 average in the 2015 postseason, Lagares’ Mets tenure was defined by injuries. Quad, hamstring, elbow, toe and thumb woes limited Lagares to an average of 68 games per season from 2016-18. He rebounded this year to appear in 133 games, mostly as a defensive replacement and pinch-hitter. But he hit just .213 with a .605 OPS.

“I thank God for the opportunity to be here from 2006 to now,” Lagares said late in the season as if he knew his days in Flushing were numbered. “It’s sad. I understand that this is a business. I have to accept everything that happened and enjoy the time with my family, and be ready for anything.”

The Mets moving on from Lagares in 2020 leaves the Mets with two healthy outfielders on their roster – Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. Yoenis Cespedes is still on the 60-day IL and J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith and Sam Haggerty are all listed as infielders. Jeff McNeil is listed as an outfielder, but is currently on the 60-day IL.