Before Citi Field officially opened its doors on April 13, 2009, the Mets hosted the Red Sox in an exhibition game at the new ballpark. Oliver Perez was on the mound and gave up a grand slam for the first home run hit at Citi Field. Jed Lowrie was the one who took Perez deep, and ten years later the Mets are hoping that will become a familiar sight.
It was a bit of a surprise when the Mets announced they signed Lowrie to a two-year, $20 million deal back in January. They had already added Robinson Cano to the infield, and with both Todd Frazier and Jeff McNeil already on the roster, the signing seemed to crowd an already crowded infield.
New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has preached depth this offseason, but signing the 34-year-old goes beyond that. Lowrie is coming of an All-Star season where he batted .267/.353/.448 while hitting twenty-three home runs and driving in ninety-nine. As a switch-hitter, he has more pop from the left side and there is a bit of a drop-off in production from the right. As a lefty last season he hit .273/.365/.478/ with an OPS of .843, whereas from the other side of the plate he hit .254/.327/.386 with a .713 OPS.
The veteran has had some freak injuries in his career, most notably a deviated septum that was caused by an errant throw. This injury interrupted his sleep and once he got it fixed the change on the field was noticeable. Since the surgery to fix the injury Lowrie has been worth an average of 4.8 WAR per year.
It’s hard to gauge what he can bring to the Mets since he has missed the entire spring with a leg injury. He just resumed baseball activities so time is not on his side when it comes to being ready for Opening Day.
The plan originally was to have Jeff McNeil play the outfield with Lowrie at third, but with the injuries to both Lowrie and Todd Frazier, McNeil will move back to the infield. When Lowrie eventually comes back, the Mets will probably go back to their original plan, especially if McNeil continues to hit.
Lowrie’s versatility both in the field and at the plate should serve the Mets well this season. He can play second, third, and short and is at least serviceable from the right-hand side of the plate. Steamer is projecting Lowrie to be a 2.0 win player this season, and for him to hit .243/.327/.393 with sixteen home runs and fifty-nine RBIs.
When Lowrie returns, Mickey Callaway will have some decisions to make regarding the personnel in both the infield and outfield but if he is healthy Lowrie should be the third baseman for the 2019 New York Mets.