Who is the Everyday Third Baseman for the Mets in 2020?

After the signing of Dellin Betances, the New York Mets have gone quiet with making significant moves on the free-agent market. The signing of Josh Donaldson or trade for Nolan Arenado seems very unlikely to solidify third base. Much like the outfield, third base looks like it will be a revolving door throughout the early part of the season until Carlos Beltran settles on a lineup.

The Mets have three options for third base in J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Jed Lowrie. Davis commanded playing time in left field when the Mets outfield lacked offense. He played 31 games at third, which is his natural position, but was below average there. Davis is nowhere near a defensive wizard in left field either, but his bat carried enough value to play every day.

McNeil played the same amount of games at third base and projected a lot better defensively. Ninety-eight percent of the balls hit to McNeil resulted in outs. Out of the multiple positions he plays, his best defensive position is at third base. It would be the best bet for the Mets to allow him to get a majority of the starts there.

The Case of Jed Lowrie

Lowrie separates himself in this conversation because it seems like the Mets do not want him on their roster. He barely played in 2019, and it is hard to expect anything out of him at age-36. Lowrie has always been an average third baseman and cannot to play the outfield like McNeil and Davis. Lowrie’s ability to switch hit is something the Mets roster lacks.

Quality depth is always necessary because injuries and poor performance can creep up on any player at any time. What makes the Mets roster interesting is how many different platoon swaps they can have.

If Robinson Cano is out of the lineup, all three could end up playing at the same time. If the Mets decide to play Jake Marisnick or Yoenis Cespedes along with Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto in the outfield, then only one of the three third basemen can be in the lineup.

These problems are good ones for Carlos Beltran to have. He has to cycle between two .300 hitters and a 2018 All-Star, and that is just at third base. Beltran’s outfield situation becomes even messier, especially is Yoenis Cespedes is healthy for Opening Day and has a good Spring Training.

Granted, in 2020, managers may not have the freedom to create lineups like they used to. Creating a lineup which allows players to feel fresh but allows them to get in an everyday rhythm is going to be one of the toughest challenges for the Mets in 2020.

The New York Mets’ Jeff McNeil is drawing trade interest

The New York Mets’ most glaring weakness to this point remains the bullpen. The offense is very good and will be even better if Yoenis Cespedes manages to play at some point in 2020. The rotation, once top-heavy, is now deep with six reliable options to start.

The biggest question mark going to the new year is, therefore, the relief corps. The Mets re-signed Brad Brach but haven’t done much since, focusing on adding starters Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello to one-year deals.

Those two additions mean that Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo will start the season in the bullpen. Dellin Betances remains unsigned and can be an option via free agency.

The Mets have entertained the idea of trading outfielder Brandon Nimmo, but they don’t want to sell low. Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis’ names have also surfaced in the market.

Teams asking about the Mets’ hitting machine

But the newest name to be thrown around in the seemingly never-ending rumors is Jeff McNeil. He was the New York Mets’ leader in wRC+ in 2019, along with Pete Alonso, with 143.

McNeil is still in his prime, at age 27, so he would fetch a significant return. According to Newsday’s Tim Healey, “many teams recently have asked the Mets about Jeff McNeil.”

He says that while the Mets have “indulged that interest with what-if scenarios,” they have resisted the idea of trading him or seriously consider doing so. As the writer notes, it would take a haul for the Mets to move a rising batting machine with an All-Star in his resume.

Highly unlikely to move

Additionally, he has five more seasons of team control. The Mets aren’t moving Jeff McNeil. But other teams are asking anyway because it doesn’t hurt to ask.

In 567 plate appearances with the New York Mets, McNeil hit 23 home runs, scored 83 runs and drove in 75. He had a 6.2 BB % and a very good 13.2 K %. His slash line was .318/.384/.531. He had a 4.6 fWAR season.

 

New York Mets: Jeff McNeil Year in Review

Jeff McNeil carried over his successful 2018 season into 2019 for the New York Mets. The sophomore slump was non-existent for McNeil as he proved himself as one of the best all around hitters in baseball and made his first All-Star team.

The Mets touted McNeil as a potential Ben Zobrist super utility player and he lives up to those expectations. He spent time playing both corner outfield positions and played second and third base. His best position was third, where he had 3 defensive runs saved.

Sweet Swinging

McNeil emerged as the Mets leadoff hitter after Brandon Nimmo struggled in the beginning of the season. McNeil hit .318 with 23 home runs, 75 RBIs and 38 doubles. His power was a surprise this season which elevated him to one of the elite hitters in baseball.

https://twitter.com/NimmoIsElite/status/1192581728323420161

Along with becoming an All-Star, McNeil showed his ability to spread the ball all over the field. He was the lead man for the batting title until he missed 10 days in August. Crazy to think the Mets almost shipped him away in the Robinson Cano trade.

One of McNeil’s most underrated characteristics was his hustle and drive to win. He never took any innings or plays off and could always be found playing at 110%. The only player with a higher batting average over the last two seasons (min. 800 PAs) is potential back to back MVP Christian Yelich.

McNeil puts the Mets future in a very good spot and will be a big contributor in 2020. With Todd Frazier out of the picture, it should open up an opportunity for McNeil to settle in third base or left field.

Grades:

Hitting for Average: A+, As good as any in baseball

Hitting for Power: A, No one expected 23 home runs from him

Defense: B-, Not a sparking defender, but good a third

Speed/Baserunning: C, Good baserunner, poor base stealer. Has solid speed though

Intangibles: A, Mets fans and teammates love him and his energy

Overall: A+, He would have a chance to be in the MVP category barring his injury and Pete Alonso’s season

Jeff McNeil Lands on the 10-Day IL, But Won’t Be Out For Long

One of the catalysts to the New York Mets lineup is going to spend some time on the shelf after straining his right hamstring during Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves. Jeff McNeil is heading to the Injured List, which creates an opportunity for a former Mets shortstop to return….no it is not Jose Reyes.

During the ninth inning of Monday’s loss, McNeil injured his hamstring attepmting to leg out a ground out. He made a final lunge towards the first base bag, but never actually touched it. His leg expected to absorb the impact of the bag and the shock of missing it tweaked the hamstring.

How to Replace McNeil

The Mets are still out of a playoff spot and his bat in the lineup is irreplaceable. McNeil solidified his spot as the Mets lead off man and was hitting .332. He is expected to be on the IL for 10 days, and the Mets need him back desperately. McNeil now joins Dom Smith and Robinson Cano as key Mets bats on the IL.

He was battling multiple ailments throughout the season and was visibly frustrated as he limped back to the dugout. The damage was not as gruesome as Cano’s hamstring, which likely keeps him out through the season. McNeil and the organization hopes it only takes the minimum 10 days to fully recover.

Former Met Makes A Return

The last game Ruben Tejada played as a Met was Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. For all involved, except for Chase Utley, it did not have the ending he planned for. Utley broke Tejada’s leg with a dirty slide and he missed the rest of the Mets magical run to the World Series. In the two seasons following he spent time with the Cardinals, Giants and Orioles, but has not played in the big leagues since 2017.

It seems like Tejada is an older veteran, but he still has not turned 30 yet. When the Mets first brought him to the big leagues, he was only 20 and had second base partners of Luis Castillo and Alex Cora in his first two starts. Tejada only had 10 home runs during his big league career, but already has six in the minors this season. Whether it has to do with the juiced balls or not remains to be seen, but he has been hitting to ball well to all fields and has a .330 average with the Syracuse Mets.

Tejada still plays third, short and second, which gives the Mets a solid defender at all three positions. Jacob Rhame will likely be moved to the 60-Day IL following elbow surgery to create room for Tejada. With a lefty on the mound for the Braves Wednesday night, Tejada could likely slide into McNeil’s spot at second base as the Mets search for a temporary leadoff hitter.

New York Mets: Jeff McNeil Has Become an Elite Utility Player

In what has been a horrible season for the New York Mets, Jeff McNeil has been a bright spot. An under the radar prospect has come out of nowhere to currently lead the MLB in batting average, play multiple positions well and become an All-Star.

McNeil was once involved in trade talks during the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade with the Seattle Mariners. Brodie’s best move was the one he did not make in keeping McNeil.

McNeil virtually came out of nowhere to become a key contributor for the Mets from his debut in 2018. He has become one of the best hitters in baseball after playing with a very unique approach to hitting.

The Mets have asked him to play multiple positions this season and he has excelled. There were questions with his glove in the minors, but he proved to be capable no matter where he is placed.

McNeil is a rare gem in today’s game. McNeil could careless about his exit velo and launch angle. He uses all sides of the field and is not afraid to sacrifice power to get an easy hit.

No matter where the Mets will have McNeil in their plans for the future. He is everything you want out of a player. He plays with the heart of Gary Carter and hustles like Pete Rose.

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The Mets have struggled to find a potent leadoff hitter since Jose Reyes left for Miami, but now they finally have their guy. At age-27, it may have taken McNeil a while to get to the big leagues, but he is making the most of it now.

What The New York Mets Should Expect From Jeff McNeil

When you’re evaluating New York Mets prospects, Jeff McNeil’s name doesn’t exactly shoot to the top of your head. But maybe it should? A 13th round draft pick in 2013 out of Long Beach State. McNeil’s stock has risen faster than any other Mets prospect this season, and at age 26, it’s hard to label him as a prospect. But one thing is for sure. McNeil knows how to hit.

This season alone McNeil has been crushing minor league pitching, splitting time between double-a and triple-a, McNeil is collectively hitting .349 with 19 homers and 66 RBI’s halfway through the season.

This breakout has caused Mets officials to take notice. Especially the noticeable increase in power production.

When the Mets drafted McNeil he was a 165-pound contact hitter not really known for a particular standout tool. However getting him healthy and putting on additional muscle mass has allowed him to tap into his power potential.

McNeil missed the majority of the last three-seasons from sports hernias and is finally 100% and producing in a full season of work.

The question Mets management has to look at is whether or not McNeil could actually be the second basemen of the future for this team. With the Mets still employing Jose Reyes and an Asdrubal Cabrera trade seems imminent, why not give McNeil a shot after the all star break?

Videos confirm that it looks like he can be an impact bat at the second base position and the Mets are in a perfect place to give McNeil the opportunity to show what he can do in the major leagues.

With the season being essentially over, McNeil may actually offer a small glimmer of hope to fans if he continues his strong bout of hitting.