The rebuild continues. Instead of looking to the free agent market for a right-handed outfielder like Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross or even fan favorite Scott Hairston, the Mets traded for a cost-controlled right-handed outfield bat instead. Even if the team traded from a position of possible surplus to a position of need, it's no slam dunk of a trade.
Collin Cowgill does hit from the right side of the plate. The five-foot-nine outfielder has been used mostly as a platoon outfielder, as he's seen 44% of his at-bats against lefties, which is higher than you'd expect from a full-time player. His weighted offense has been 17% better than league average against lefties, too. He can also, at the very least, fake center field. He played more center than anywhere in the minors. Cowgill also has patience, as he's shown an above-average walk rate at almost every stop along the way. He can steal a bag. He's athletic. He's young. He's under control until 2017.
So what's the problem?
Plenty of them. His offense against righties has been 59% worse than league average, so he's probably a platooner without the upside of a full-time starter. He used to play center field, but he's been moved off the position gradually as he's moved up the ladder. He started more games on the corners for the Athletics than he did in center. He might not have any power. Outside of the hitter-friendly PCL, he's shown league-average-ish power or worse. He'll be projected for less-than-league average power next season. He's been caught almost as many times as he's been successful at stealing bases in the major leagues, so he may be fast, but he won't be a great asset on the basepaths.
And then there's the cost. Jefry Marte didn't rank in anyone's top ten or fifteen among the Mets' prospects, but there was some upside there. Here's Rob Castellano on Marte before this past season started:
Then a surprise call out to the AFL changed things. For four weeks he was one of the top hitters in the talent-heavy circuit, once again slugging the ball while posting a superb 1:1 K-to-BB rate against older more seasoned competition. Scouts marveled over his raw hitting ability and suddenly Marte's stock as a pure right-handed power hitter was once again rising. Unfortunately he broke his wrist before the end of the season but he'd already done enough to once again make people wonder. I'm still a little more on the short side with him right now as his fielding is still a question mark and I've got to see at least one full good season before I buy in; but even I will admit that the talent is clearly in there somewhere.
Of course, Marte then went out and fizzled in Double-A this year, continuing to show meh patience, okay contact skills, average-ish or worse power and okay speed... sounds a bit like Cowgill, all the way down to the inconsistent defense. The only thing -- Marte is an infielder for now at least, and Cowgill is a tweener outfielder.
The Mets needed a right-handed bat for the outfield. If they had to, they could go into the season with Cowgill and Kirk Nieuwenhuis taking up an outfield spot, and that spot could even be center field if you grin and bear some bad defense. But that isn't a long-term solution, even if you count Cowgill as a long-term asset.
A small deal that does fit needs, this one won't figure in greatly into the future of the either organization... unless Marte figures something out and once again looks like that prospect that tore up the AFL in 2011.