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Grading the Mets’ minor league signings

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The Mets were very active on the minor league front this offseason, and they added some nice pieces.

MLB: New York Mets-Media Day Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been an active winter for the Mets, and that includes a plethora of minor league signings. This represents something of a departure from the recent strategy of the Mets’ FO, who seemed to often ignore minor league signings as an avenue of adding organizational depth and possible bargain bin minor league contributors. To date, the Mets have signed the following players to minor league deals:

C Devin Mesoraco
INF/OF Arismendy Alcantara
INF Danny Espinosa
INF Adeiny Hechavarria
INF Dilson Herrera
OF Gregor Blanco
OF Rajai Davis
OF Carlos Gomez
OF Rymer Liriano
RHP Arquimedes Caminero
LHP Luis Avilan
LHP Ryan O’Rourke
LHP Hector Santiago

On the offensive side, the Mets have addressed what was a razor thin depth chart in the upper minors, particularly in the outfield. Liriano is ticketed for Triple-A, and it seems Blanco and Gomez are as well. Davis, meanwhile, probably leaves for another opportunity at the end of spring training if he’s not on the MLB roster. All of these guys are good minor league options, however, capable of serving as bench outfielders in case of injury or as reinforcement for a razor thin upper-minors depth chart.

The infield group is similar. Espinosa will be valuable depth in Triple-A and an emergency middle infield option, as should Adeiny Hechavarria (though it seems like the Mets are eager to shoe horn him on to the major league roster in order to have a ‘real’ backup SS). Alcantara is a former top prospect that never panned out, but there’s some semblance of upside still there. The best get is Dilson Herrera, who was once traded for Jay Bruce before having his career derailed by shoulder issues. At only 24, he’s arguably still a real prospect, and having him in Triple-A as potential 2B option is a coup by minor league signings standards. Finally, Devin Mesoraco slots nicely into the ‘upper minors veteran catching depth’ role, a particular important spot for the Mets given Wilson Ramos’ and Travis d’Arnaud’s injury history.

In terms of pitching, the Mets weren’t quite as active, but still made some nice additions. Luis Avilan might be the best player here; despite a down 2018 where he posted a 109.1 DRA-, Avilan has gradually increased his strikeouts over the past three seasons, and was 30% better than league average during 2016 and 2017. He’s most likely ticketed for the opening day bullpen as the second lefty option.

Beyond Avilan, the other signings the Mets made are depth guys. Caminero has pitched in Japan the past two seasons and never had any control when he was stateside, but he’s got a live arm. Ryan O’Rourke had a brief run as a good LOOGY before blowing out his arm, and is a good bet on an injury rebound. Other guys, who I omitted above - Sean Burnett, Casey Coleman, Zach Lee, Omar De Los Santos, Zack Jones - are just upper minors bodies. Finally, former-All-Star Hector Santiago has experience as a starter and a reliever, and is an emergency swing-man option.

We could expound further on the background and skill set of most of these guys, but that would take several thousand words and far too much time for all involved. To keep things brief, this is a really good group of minor league signings, an area that the Mets have neglected in recent years. The Mets added a good combination of depth-chart filler, legitimate reserve major leaguers, and former top prospects, and several of these guys will get major league time this year. This portion of the Mets offseason was sterling, and for that it earns an A+.