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Keon Broxton should give the Mets stellar defense off the bench

Broxton’s speed and highlight-reel catches will be a major improvement for the Mets’ bench this season.

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at New York Mets Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Keon Broxton was acquired by the Mets in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers on January 5th in exchange for relievers Bobby Wahl and Adam Hill, and infielder Felix Valerio. Broxton will likely start the season as the Mets’ primary outfield option off the bench, backing up Juan Lagares in center field.

A third-round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2009 amateur draft, the 28-year-old Lakeland, FL native debuted as a September call-up with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015 before being dealt to the Brewers that offseason. In 2016, Broxton showed off his speed, fantastic defense, and ability to get on base with 23 stolen bases and a .354 OBP, providing the Brew Crew with a spark plug off the bench and a respectable 2.1 WAR in just 75 games.

Broxton won the starting center field job in Milwaukee in 2017 and played 143 games but saw a dip in his offensive production. Despite slugging a career-high 20 home runs, Broxton struggled to reach base consistently, amassing a paltry .220 AVG and a below average .299 OBP. Playing time was hard to come by for Broxton in 2018 after the Brewers made a huge splash in the offseason, acquiring two high-caliber outfielders in reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. Spending most of last season in triple-A Colorado Springs, Broxton had a limited role in the Brewers’ NL Central championship season, relegated to pinch-hitting/running duties and defensive substitutions. One memorable moment for Broxton came in the Division Series against the Colorado Rockies, as he launched a pinch-hit home run off closer Wade Davis in game three, helping Milwaukee seal a 6-0 win and a series sweep.

With Milwaukee dealing with a logjam in the outfield, Broxton was dealt to the Mets and has had a solid spring training, posting a .282 AVG and a .429 OBP. It appears Broxton will be making the Mets’ 25-man roster over other veteran outfield options Rajai Davis and Carlos Gomez. As a right-handed bat, Broxton along with Lagares can complement the two left-handed corner outfielders Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo in the lineup. The Mets will also finally have a natural center fielder as a backup in case Lagares misses more time due to injury this season. Plus, it’s always nice to have another center fielder with Gold Glove-caliber defense.