A minor move made the other day by the New York Mets has shed some light on a major problem they have. Outfielders Corey Patterson and Mike Wilson were signed to minor league contracts, which was a pretty standard move; however, neither received invitations to major league camp, which means they will both head straight to minor league camp and appear destined to suit up this season for the Mets AAA affiliate in Las Vegas.
What’s telling about this move is not that the Mets won’t allow a pair of mediocre journeymen outfielders to audition for the major league club during spring training, but that they need a pair of mediocre journeymen outfielders to fill out their AAA roster. Not only will the Mets have difficulty filling out their outfield to start the 2013 season, but they lack the homegrown prospects to fill out their AAA outfield as well, a sign that help is not on the way for the New York outfield, at least not from within the organization.
The only minor league outfielders the Mets have that could make their major league debut are Matt den Dekker and Juan Lagares, two players that won’t add significant amounts of power to the Mets lineup and who may end up being no more than platoon players in center field. Two of the Mets more talented outfield prospects, Cesar Puello and Cory Vaughn, both struggled last season and failed to earn promotions out of a-ball, meaning they aren’t likely to reach the major leagues soon, if at all. Of course, top outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo has played just one full season as a professional and is several years away from the big leagues.
What it means is that the Mets weakest position, their outfield, shows no signs of life and no signs of improvement from within at any point in the near future. The lack of quality outfielders currently on the roster, and the lack of promising prospects in the upper levels of the minor leagues makes it that much more urgent for the Mets to make a major move in free agency to help their outfield, such as signing Michael Bourn, or face the fact of having an inadequate outfield for years to come.