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Getting to know Mets outfielder Alejandro De Aza

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The left-handed hitter is expected to platoon with Juan Lagares in center field in 2016.

Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

Signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers way back in 2001, Alejandro De Aza was taken by the Marlins in the minor league phase of the 2004 Rule 5 draft. Most players taken in that phase of the draft never make the big leagues, but De Aza made his big league debut with the Marlins in 2007. But he played in just 45 games for the Marlins that year, and an ankle injury caused him to miss most of that season and the entire 2008 season.

De Aza returned to the field in 2009, but he spent more time in Triple-A than he did in the big leagues. In total, he didn't do much in the parts of the two seasons he spent with the Marlins, as he hit just .232/.279/.311 over that span. But following the 2009 season, the White Sox claimed him on waivers. He spent the 2010 season with their Triple-A affiliate and got called up that September, but he began and spent much of 2011—his age-27 season—in Triple-A, too, before he got promoted that July. From then on, De Aza maintained his status as a major league player.

From 2011 through 2013, De Aza hit .278/.343/.421 for the White Sox. In 122 games with the team in 2014, he hit just .243/.309/.354 before the White Sox traded him to the Orioles for a pair of minor league players in late August. In twenty games with the Orioles, he hit .293/.341/.537. Things didn't go nearly as well for him in Baltimore to start the 2015 season, though, and after 30 games, he had a .636 OPS and was designated for assignment.

Baltimore then traded him to the Red Sox, where he hit much better—with an .831 OPS in 60 games— before the Red Sox traded him to the Giants on August 31. In 24 games with them, he had a .747 OPS. Add it all up, and De Aza hit .262/.333./422 with a 104 wRC+ in 2015.

In total, De Aza has hit .267/.331/.405 with a 101 wRC+ in his major league career. In his four full big league seasons, he has hovered around league average with the bat, topping out at a 106 wRC+ in 2012 and bottoming out at a 96 wRC+ in 2014. The Mets plan to platoon him with the right-handed Juan Lagares, and if they do, that should maximize his output at the plate.

De Aza has a .274/.338/.418 line with a 106 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers in his career, and he has hit them better than that over the past couple of seasons, with a 117 wRC+ in 2015 and a 115 wRC+ in 2014. Platoons never eliminate 100 percent of same-handed matchups for hitters, but the Mets might cobble together a decent offensive performance between Lagares and De Aza.

It's the center field part that might be a problem. With the White Sox in 2012, De Aza spent the grand majority of his time in the outfield playing center. In 2013, he spent roughly two-thirds of his time in center and the rest in left field, as Chicago mixed in a few other players in center. Following that season, however, the White Sox traded for Adam Eaton, who took over as their starting center fielder in 2014, while De Aza moved to left. De Aza played a handful of games in center for Chicago before the trade to Baltimore, and with Adam Jones in center there, he played all but five of his outfield innings in the corner spots. The same was true in Boston, where Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. patrolled center, and in San Francisco, where former Met Angel Pagan was entrenched at the position.

So the defensive metrics on De Aza's play in center field are limited to the 2012 and 2013 seasons in Chicago. He had -5 Defensive Runs Saved in 2012 and a -1.8 UZR/150. The following year, DRS, which is a counting stat, had him at -18 in approximately 200 fewer innings, though he had a -4.1 UZR/150. Among center fielders who played at least 500 innings at the position in 2013, he ranked dead last in DRS and slightly below the middle of the pack in UZR/150.

Perhaps that single-season DRS in center in 2013 was defensive metric noise. But De Aza's body of work in center hasn't been above-average, and he has barely played the position over the past two seasons. At minimum, his ability to play there in 2016 seems questionable.

Last but not least, De Aza's baserunning has been above average in three of the last four years, per Fangraphs, though most of that value isn't coming from stolen bases. While he has stolen 86 bases in his major league career, he's been caught 41 times, a success rate of just 68 percent. And over the last two seasons, he's just 24-for-39 in stolen base attempts, a 61 percent success rate.

De Aza will turn 32 years old in early April. It's possible that the move will work for the Mets, but there's clearly plenty of risk involved. De Aza's bat, while not very exciting, should be decent. But if he's a defensive liability in center field, a just-decent bat won't be enough.