It’s not very exciting, and it’s going to get its fair share of detractors, but the Jose Bautista signing makes sense.
Yes, Bautista is another past-his-prime veteran, the type of player the Mets have earned a reputation for pursuing in lieu of other, more expensive free agents, but this team has holes, most notably against left handed pitching. At this point in the season, he’s the best available option for the Mets.
Against lefties, the Mets are forced to move Jose Reyes into the lineup, and unfortunately, Reyes is now bad at baseball, and he may not be long for this team. His two errors at third base on Tuesday cost the Mets two runs and completely changed the complexion of the game. At this point in Reyes’ career, he is a tremendous liability on defense (far more so than even Wilmer Flores), he hasn’t hit a lick, and Luis Guillorme has shown enough in his short time with the team to warrant more playing time.
It feels all but certain that Reyes will be cut sooner rather than later, which leaves a gap on the bench for a right-handed batter for pinch-hitting situations. Bautista has slightly better career splits against lefties (.257/.367/.491 vs. LHP, .247/.359/.476 vs. RHP), and he has essentially only been able to hit lefties so far in 2018. He showed that ability in his first at-bat with the Mets on Tuesday when he laced a double down the left field line against Marlins southpaw Caleb Smith. If the Mets do cut ties with Reyes, Bautista can play third against lefties until Todd Frazier returns. Tell me, what would you rather have in the lineup: Bautista and Flores, or Reyes and Flores? That's an easy decision for me.
Additionally, prior to Bautista’s signing, the Mets had been carrying three outfielders, all of whom are lefties. With Juan Lagares out for the season and Yoenis Cespedes currently nursing a hip flexor strain, the Mets were left with Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Jay Bruce as their lone outfielders, all southpaws. Bautista not only provides the team a bit more depth once Cespedes returns, but he also allows them to spell those guys against tough left-handers.
It’s not pretty. Free agent signings in the middle of May rarely are. But the Bautista acquisition gives the Mets a righty bat for depth, potentially frees us from the scourge of Reyes, and is essentially risk-free. I understand if you’re not clicking your heels over it, but it’s a decent band-aid on the Mets’ ailing roster.
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