Back at the end of March, the Mets signed 40-year-old Bobby Abreu to a minor league deal. It was a seemingly inconsequential move at the time, as the outfielder hadn’t played in a major league game since the 2012 season. But Abreu reported to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas and hit to the tune of a .395/.489/579 triple-slash line, good enough marks to earn him a promotion to the big leagues after fifteen games.
Cast off by the Phillies during spring training, Abreu became a feel-good story for the Mets as he raked in the early going. From his Mets debut on April 22 through June 15, Abreu hit .308/.385/.462 in 91 plate appearances. He hit just one home run over that span but doubled nine times and walked as many times as he struck out: eleven. While the Mets hadn’t found an everyday corner outfielder to complement Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson, it seemed like they might have stumbled upon a useful part-time player in Abreu.
Since then, however, Abreu has really struggled. In just 48 plate appearances from June 16 through July 27, Abreu has hit .122/.250/.122. He’s still walked nearly as often as he struck out, but without an extra-base hit over the last month, he hasn’t been nearly as valuable with the bat. In the span of a month, his slash line for the season dropped to .244/.338/.345.
Abreu probably wasn’t ever going to be as good as he looked over his first two months with the Mets. He’s probably at least a little bit better than he’s been over the last month, too. On the season, Abreu is now a roughly-league-average hitter when accounting for league and ballpark, a level of production that doesn’t really work with his lack of defensive prowess.
Of course, the Mets’ alternatives are not leaps and bounds better than Abreu. Chris Young hasn’t played the kind of defense that he used to, and he’s hit just .207/.291/.366 this year. Eric Young Jr. has been better with the glove, but he’s hit just .231/.316/.306.
The Mets have a few alternatives to Abreu in Las Vegas. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has bounced back and forth between the Mets and 51s this year, but he’s hit well in limited playing time in the big leagues and, like Abreu, hits from the left side of the plate. Andrew Brown has raked in the minors, but he’s struggled in his major league stints. Matt den Dekker has hit well in Vegas, but he barely hit in his brief time with the Mets this year. And Cesar Puello has gotten limited playing time in Vegas, though his bat has finally started to heat up over the last few weeks.
Considering the Mets went several weeks with six outfielders on their active roster and now has five, it doesn’t seem likely the team would replace Abreu with anyone other than an outfielder. So given Abreu’s lack of production over the last month, should the Mets replace him with someone from Vegas or let him keep trying to get back on track in the majors?