On August 1, 2016, the Mets agreed to trade Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell to the Reds in exchange for Jay Bruce. Herrera was the clear prize of the trade, having been just one year removed from ranking as the Mets’ fourth-best prospect, eviscerating PCL pitching to the tune of a 138 wRC+, and holding his own in 103 plate appearances at the major league level. Though the 2016 season was more of a mediocre one for Herrera at Triple-A, he was still only 22 at the time, and he figured to be a key part of the Reds’ future.
Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in early September of that year ended Herrera’s season, and it prevented him from receiving a September call-up. He was back in Triple-A to start the 2017 season, but this time he struggled with a 96 wRC+ in his third go-around at the level. He continued to suffer through shoulder soreness throughout that year, and in August he once again underwent season-ending surgery, this time for an impingement in that right shoulder.
Herrera returned to the field in 2018, finally healthy, but his star having faded considerably. He once again dominated Triple-A with a 135 wRC+ in 50 games with the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville. That earned him a promotion to the big leagues in July in a part-time role, but this time he struggled and had an 81 wRC+ in 97 plate appearances in the big leagues.
The Reds released Herrera after the season, and the Mets scooped up their former prospect and signed him to a minor league contract for 2019. Now back in his old stomping grounds, he’ll likely start the year at Triple-A Syracuse to serve as depth. Unfortunately, the Mets have loaded up with second basemen this offseason, giving him no clear path to the big leagues. He isn’t on the 40-man roster and is likely behind the likes of Adeiny Hechavarria, Luis Guillorme, Danny Espinosa, and maybe even Gavin Cecchini in the pecking order of minor league infielders who would be called up to the major leagues at some point during the year. It’s looking like things will have to go terribly wrong for the Mets as a whole for Herrera to see anything more than a September call-up this year.
That said, if his shoulder is truly healed, Herrera just turned 25, which still makes him only a few months older than Pete Alonso. He still has the athleticism that made him a prospect, and he did hit well at Triple-A last year. If he can make some noise at Syracuse this year, he could work his way up the depth chart and catch the eyes of some evaluators—both with the Mets and with other teams—and get another shot at the major league level somewhere. If he is ever going to make an impact, though, he needs to drastically improve his plate discipline. It was never great, but an ugly 40 percent strikeout rate last year in his time with the Reds simply won’t cut it.
While it’s good nostalgia that Herrera is back in the Mets organization, he’s not guaranteed a regular role with the Syracuse Mets, much less a shot at the big leagues. He has a lot of work to do, but at least age and prospect pedigree are on his side.