It’s been a little more than two months since the New York Mets acquired outfielder Eric Young from the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Collin McHugh, but what appeared to be a meaningless exchange of fringe players has paid big dividends for the Mets. And while the Mets will continue to evaluate Young for the remainder of the season, he appears to be a player who the club need to hang onto for next season.
When they traded for him, Young fit so much of what the Mets lacked, and there are a lot of reasons to think that he’ll continue to fit what the Mets will need in the future. For the first two months of the season, the Mets lacked both speed and a true leadoff hitter, and Young instantly gave them both. He hasn’t always been sharp defensively, but he has the speed to cover plenty of ground in the outfield as well as the versatility to also play second base, and more importantly, he’s been a catalyst at the top of their lineup.
Looking towards next season, Young should be able to play a role similar to what he’s done for the Mets this season. Unless the Mets find someone outside the organization this offseason, they have no better option in the leadoff spot than Young. Also, having Juan Lagares as their potential center fielder of the future would allow Young to remain in left field, which is the outfield position that suits him best.
Keeping Young and Lagares would retain the speed the Mets have in their outfield, as well as the improved defense they’ve had over the past two months, which has been a key to their success over that time. Also, knowing that they have Young as their left fielder and leadoff hitter would allow the Mets to have a better idea of what to look for at other positions that they need to address this offseason, such as right field and shortstop.
The Mets will continue to monitor Young closely for the rest of the season, just to be sure he’s a good fit for them moving forward. But he is under their control for next season and beyond if they choose to tender him a contract, and by what he’s shown over the past two months since coming to the Mets, Young is definitely a keeper for 2014.