Signing John Mayberry Jr. last offseason made sense. Let's remember that before conjuring dark memories of his short-lived Mets tenure.
The Mets traveled a harrowing road to the World Series, spending the first four months in offensive hibernation before trades and the return of players from the disabled list saved the season. Perhaps the greatest symbol of their first-half futility was batting the 31-year-old outfielder cleanup against left-handed pitching.
It's easy to call this a debacle in hindsight, especially with the benefit of knowing Mayberry's 2015 results. In 119 plate appearances scattered over 59 games, the righty hit .164/.227/.318 with 33 strikeouts and a 52 wRC+. Yet the thought process last winter was sound. The club needed a platoon bat to spell Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson against lefties, and Mayberry holds a career .833 OPS against southpaws. For the Mets, however, he tallied a .628 OPS against his favored foes, turning 21.4 percent of his batted balls into infield flies. While his production may have normalized with a larger sampling, the Mets ran out of time and patience.
In his last start of the season, the right-handed slugger batted fourth, in between Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell, against Clayton Kershaw. To nobody's surprise, the Los Angeles Dodgers ace hurled a complete-game shutout. The following day, the Mets designated Mayberry for assignment after acquiring Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe from the Atlanta Braves. A week later, they released him.
Mayberry later latched on to the Chicago White Sox, where his struggles continued. In 13 games for their Triple-A squad, he hit .162/.225/.189 with one extra-base hit (a double) in 37 at-bats. Again a free agent, he'll look for another chance as a bench bat.
Thus lies the beauty of a low-cost, short-term investments. For an MLB franchise, spending $1.4 million on a dud is like paying to see a crummy movie in theaters. Not fretting sunk costs, the Mets cut ties with him and instead allocated the spare outfield at-bats to Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes. Rather than an infamous disaster, Mayberry was no more than a sour footnote in a great season.