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Gordon Beckham is a last resort in the infield

Barring injuries and opt-outs, it’s unlikely Beckham will see major league action in 2020

Beckham has played for six teams in the last six seasons
Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox drafted Gordon Beckham eighth overall in 2008, and then called him up to the majors the very next season. Beckham affirmed his quick promotion with a solid rookie season, playing 102 games at third base and posting 2.2 bWAR. Though he would finish fifth in the official voting, Beckham was named the AL Rookie of the Year by both the Sporting News and the MLB Players Association, giving many White Sox fans hope for the future. The club’s top prospect had turned into an everyday player and potentially a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.

Beckham has since played the last ten seasons as one of MLB’s least valuable everyday players. And now he plays for the Mets.

Or rather, he sits in the Mets’ player pool, participating in Summer Camp with an outside shot of making the 40-man roster. Much like recent veteran signings Hunter Strickland and Melky Cabrera, Beckham is in the player pool to provide depth for a team that can’t predict how many players they’ll need for the upcoming 60-game stretch. But both Strickland and Cabrera, despite unimpressive 2019 performances, have at least put up above-average seasons in the last three years. Beckham hasn’t put up a season with over 1.0 bWAR since 2011.

After showing promise with 14 home runs, 28 doubles, 63 RBI, and an .808 OPS in his rookie season, Beckham has never eclipsed any of those numbers in any season since. He has played in only 207 games since 2016 after averaging 124 games per season in his first seven years, and he has not had a season of more than 89 OPS+ since his rookie year.

His defense isn’t much better. Beckham provides versatility with significant experience at third base and shortstop, though he played much better at second base in 2019. Last season, Beckham put up a 6.7 UZR/150 at second base, albeit with only 39 games played at the position. That put him at fifth amongst all second baseman with at least 300 innings played in 2019. He was pretty disastrous in his 200 innings of work elsewhere, however, with a -5.0 and -4.5 UZR/150 at shortstop and third base, respectively. If the Mets play him for his defensive abilities, there’s only one place on the field he’d be of any value.

The team’s fluid infield situation and the possibility of players opting out of the season might give Beckham an opportunity to play for the Mets in 2020, but the odds he’ll see major league action are low. Beckham probably sits somewhere between seventh and ninth on the infield depth chart, and even if his name were to be called, the team would probably rather give experience to young prospects instead of a 33-year-old journeyman. In a typical year, it wouldn’t make much sense to sign a player whose last above-average season occurred in 2011, but the 2020 Mets may require all the help they can find.