Deep down it must kill New York Mets outfielder Matt den Dekker to watch all the major league success Juan Lagares has had over the past year — not because he’s a malicious person, but because it could have been him. Had den Dekker not suffered an injury during spring training in 2013, he likely would have been called up early in the season when the Mets needed an extra outfielder, not Lagares.
That would have given den Dekker, a player known for making spectacular defensive plays, the opportunity to state his case as the Mets’ potential center fielder of the future. Instead, with den Dekker on the shelf, the Mets called up Lagares last year, and he ended up showing off Gold Glove caliber play in center field; and with the way he’s swung the bat this season, Lagares looks like he could be the team’s center fielder for a long time to come.
But now, opportunity is finally knocking for den Dekker. With Eric Young Jr. going to the DL, the Mets have summoned den Dekker ahead of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who was with the team earlier in the season but has since slumped in triple-A. While den Dekker won’t play every day, with Chris Young struggling, den Dekker should get at least a handful of starts over the next few weeks, giving him a chance to make a lasting impression.
The Mets are in no way committed to Young Jr. after his inconsistent play this season, so with an impressive performance over the next couple of weeks, den Dekker may have a chance to stay with the team even after Young Jr. returns from the DL at least in a platoon role. There’s no doubt that den Dekker will contribute to the Mets defensively; it’s just a matter of him producing with the bat. He’s finally getting an opportunity to have an extended stay in the big leagues, and den Dekker needs to take advantage of it because he may not get another one.