Word has quickly spread that the New York Mets have reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Chris Young on a one-year contract worth a little over $7 million, although Young’s physical and a corresponding roster move that will require the Mets to cut someone from their 40-man roster won’t make the move official until next week.
While it’s nice for the Mets to make a move, sign a free agent, and spend some money, especially doing so before the MLB Winter Meetings, signing Young isn’t an ideal start to their offseason. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson needed to make a splash to jump start the offseason and get a somewhat weary fan base excited, but Young isn’t that kind of signing. $7 million is a lot of money for a team that may not have that much to spend and still has several other needs to address.
One of the issues with Young is that he’s not a perfect fit for the Mets’ needs. If the Mets signed him to play center field it would be fine. But the Mets plan on using Juan Lagares, who’s an elite defender that was robbed of a Gold Glove, as their every day center fielder, which will push Young to right field. Defensively, that move will work out well for the Mets, as Young is a great defensive player who would serve as protection if Lagares struggles next year, but Young may not have the bat the Mets need in a corner outfield position.
If he plays every day, Young will likely get be able to hit 20 home runs, which is acceptable. But Young has only hit above .250 once in his seven seasons in the majors, which may make the Mets hesitant to play him every day meaning they would have to find a left-handed batter that can platoon with Young in right field. Also troubling is the fact that in 2013 he had career lows in batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, which makes a $7 million contract all the more puzzling.
Obviously, the Mets see this is a low-risk high-reward move, as there is no long-term commitment to Young the way there would be for a higher profile free agent. But signing Young barely scratches the surface with regard to the Mets filling all of their offseason needs as they still need to sign or trade for at least one more outfielder. Moreover, if Young fails, the Mets will have a limited number of outfield prospects to fall back on.
A better move for the Mets to start the offseason with would have been going after shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who would fill a need and show the fan base that the Mets are serious. It’s nice to see the Mets do something constructive this early in the offseason, but they should have tried to do something better than spending $7 million on an outfielder that is far from certain to make an impact next season.