Mets still seek a right-handed hitting outfielder, interested in Steve Pearce, Ryan Raburn
With the Mets being out of the running to sign Yoenis Cespedes this winter, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Mets are still interested in signing a right-handed hitting outfielder to create more depth and more versatility while deepening the roster.
Pearce, who turns 33 in April, is coming off a down year with the Orioles thanks in part to an early season funk coupled with an oblique injury which kept him out of action from mid-July until late August. He has shown improved power in recent seasons, has reasonably good plate discipline and actually saw his contact rates bump up modestly in his down year in 2015, suggesting he could be a good buy-low candidate this winter for interested clubs.
He’s somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades, capable of playing both corner outfield spots, first, second and third base, but isn’t going to wow anyone with his defensive abilities.
For the Mets, Pearce could be a solid right-handed bat for them off the bench, and a legitimate alternative to Lucas Duda at first base. He has seen a larger percentage of power come against left-handed pitching in his career, posting an .824 OPS against southpaws in 594 plate appearances. He’s not awful against right-handers, either, although if the Mets were to sign Pearce it’s clear his role would be to primarily face left-handed pitching.
The Mets have also shown interest in Ryan Raburn, according to Matt Ehalt of the Bergen Record.
Raburn, 34, hasn’t been a full-time player since 2011, serving mostly in a super-utility role capable of playing in the outfield as well as first base, second base and third base. He has been up and down over the last couple of years but he’s a disciplined hitter who gets on-base and has some pop, although he doesn’t have much speed.
He’s about league-average defensively, but he hasn’t played much on the infield over the last couple of seasons, which could be an issue if he’s viewed as a potential backup to David Wright at third base.
But Wilmer Flores seems slated to be Wright’s backup, which would limit Raburn’s exposure in that role.
Raburn would certainly go a long way towards deepening the Mets bench and giving the Mets even the versatility they seek. He would give the Mets another platoon alternative at two corner outfield spots, first base, and second base, if the Mets were able to secure his services.
Versatility is the name of the game for the Mets this winter, and Raburn posted a 1.004 OPS against left-handed pitching in 70 games against left-handed pitching in 2015. He has a career .827 OPS against southpaws.