New York Mets fans can rejoice. Chris Young has been designated for assignment. Fans have been clamoring for Young’s release for months as he has failed to produce to the level of his $7.25 million contract. Young was signed for his power with the hope that he would bounce back from a sub-par 2013 (.200, 14 home runs) but instead the numbers have looked remarkably similar at .205 with 8 home runs.
As a corresponding move, the Mets called up Matt den Dekker for the second time this season. den Dekker hit just .156 in his first 45 at bats with the Mets but had been hitting extremely well for Las Vegas. den Dekker provides an additional left-handed hitting outfielder and is certainly an improvement defensively over Young, who has not shown the defensive skills that he had in years past. If den Dekker can keep his strikeouts down and cause some havoc with his speed on the bases, he can make a strong case that he deserves to be in the major leagues.
den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis will likely split most of the time in left field for the remainder of the season as the Mets look to plan for 2015. The Mets strongly expect one of those two to win the job for 2015. Both have shown their abilities defensively, so it will likely come down to offensive production as the deciding factor.
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Of course let’s not overlook Eric Young Jr. EY has seen his playing time dry up, likely because of his .224 batting average. He lost his leadoff spot in the batting order and while he may also be given a chance to show what he can do in left field, I expect den Dekker and Nieuwenhuis to win a majority of the time. The Mets likely feel that they can move on from Young Jr. this offseason. He is arbitration eligible so the team could either look to trade him, or work out an additional way to move him.
Another point worth making regarding the outfield situation is that the team put Curtis Granderson on revocable waivers. This means that teams can put in offers to claim him but the Mets maintain the ability to pull him off waivers and instead choose to negotiate a trade with the team that put in the offer. I fully expect that if a team does place an offer, Granderson will be pulled back, but it seems surprising that the Mets think that they might be willing to listen to trade offers, especially given the commitment they gave Granderson this offseason.
Going forward for the rest of the season the Mets’ outfield will likely consist of Nieuwenhuis/den Dekker in left, Juan Lagares in center, and Granderson in right, making the defensive capabilities of the unit very formidable as all four guys have played center field at a point in their careers.
It is clear with these call ups that, although they do not want to admit it, the Mets have begun to concede the 2014 season and look to 2015 instead.
UPDATE: The team has stated that den Dekker will get most of the playing time in left field, making Nieuwenhuis the Mets’ new go to pinch hitter.