The Mets have been searching for a left-handed outfielder to complement Juan Lagares throughout the first half of the off-season.
Have they found one?
On Monday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the Mets are closing to signing free agent OF Alejandro De Aza.
The Mets made their deal with De Aza official on Tuesday.
This is an interesting play for the Mets, assuming De Aza is indeed going to be Lagares’ complement, and not an upgrade over Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the bench. Even with Nieuwenhuis, the Mets bench could stand to get a little more left-handed, and De Aza certainly can be seen as an upgrade in that area of the roster.
However, Heyman indicates De Aza will platoon with Lagares in center field. But De Aza doesn’t really check the boxes the Mets were seeking to fill if he is going to see significant playing time.
De Aza, who turns 32 in April, is capable of playing all three outfield positions, although he started just one game in center field in 2015. And the year prior, he started just 15 games in center, thus making him less of a fit for this team.
He isn’t a very good defensive player in general, although he could be considered an average to slightly above average left fielder.
However, the Mets do not have a need for a left-handed hitting left fielder. They have Michael Conforto.
De Aza profiles as a top-of-the-order bat and has been known for his speed throughout his career, but he didn’t log too many stolen bases in 2015. He’s also not the textbook-type player the Mets typically seek as he doesn’t get on-base very much while striking out quite a bit as well (he walked only 8.5 percent of the time while striking out 23 percent of the time in 2015).
De Aza has proven to be effective against left-handed pitching, however. He posted an .800 OPS against southpaws in 2015 with only a .470 OPS against right-handers, which mostly aligns with his career tendencies, although his ineffectiveness against the right side was unusually poor.
In 2015, De Aza hit .278/.351/.448 with 17 doubles, five triples, 33 RBI in 114 games for the Giants, Red Sox and Orioles.