Why the Mets aren’t ready to deal from their outfield excess
Alejandro De Aza represents sheer excess for the Mets, but the team is not trying to trade him.
At least not yet.
The Mets, while not ruling out a trade of De Aza, see little reason to push for a deal before the opening of spring training, according to major-league sources.
Few teams currently are in the market for a reserve outfielder who will earn $5.75 million this season. The Mets also do not want to trade De Aza before knowing that their other outfielders will be healthy for Opening Day.
As it stands, the Mets could face a lengthy absence with prospect Brandon Nimmo, whom they added to the 40-man roster during the offseason but recently was diagnosed with a partial tendon tear in his left foot.
Nimmo, 22, was not projected to be on the team’s Opening Day roster. But a spring-training injury to one of the Mets’ four primary outfielders — Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares — would create a greater role for De Aza, who turns 32 on April 11.
The Mets signed De Aza in late December to be a left-handed complement to Lagares in center. At the time, it appeared a longshot to retain Cespedes. But about a month later, they retained Cespedes, with the idea of using him as their regular center fielder.
The deal effectively reduced De Aza to a fifth outfielder — and Cespedes, a right-handed hitter, hits righties better than lefties, further reducing the need for De Aza’s left-handed bat.
The Mets, after signing De Aza as a free agent, would need his approval if they traded him before June 15. De Aza almost certainly would consent to a deal if he was projected to receive minimal playing time with New York, damaging his future value.
David Murphy, Will Venable and Matt Joyce are among the left-handed-hitting outfielders who remain on the open market, depressing the demand for De Aza. The Mets recently signed another such player, Roger Bernadina, to a minor-league contract, giving them an alternative to De Aza, if necessary.