The Mets, in search of additional roster depth, have signed outfielder and old friend Juan Lagares as well as infielder Brian Dozier on minor league deals. In a pair of corresponding moves, the team parted ways with Melky Cabrera and Gordon Beckham, who were trying out during summer camp. With that, the team’s 60-player pool stands at 57. The Lagares and Dozier signings come just over a week after the pair were released by the Padres.
Lagares has spent his entire playing career with the Mets after the franchise added him as an undrafted free agent in 2006. The 31-year-old debuted in 2013 and has hit .254/.297/.361 with an 82 wRC+ and a 7.5 fWAR in parts of seven seasons in New York. After the club failed to sign him over the offseason, he joined San Diego as an NRI and tried out with the club during both spring training 1.0 and summer camp.
Lagares was always a defensive standout, culminating in his Gold Glove award in 2014, but he was unfortunately never as proficient at the plate, as his numbers indicate. He also suffered several ill-timed injuries, which kept him off the field for a lot of his career. Between 2016 and 2018, he combined to play just 203 games. In 2019, he appeared in 133 games—his most since 2015—but he had his worst season statistically, with a career-low -0.8 fWAR and 60 wRC+ to go along with a .213/.279/.326 slash line.
With Jake Marisnick officially listed as day-to-day while nursing some hamstring tightness, Lagares is a low-risk pick up who is familiar with the team and can provide some solid defensive play in the outfield with a hit or two here or there. The team is likely to start the year with a J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto stationed left-to-right in the outfield with Yoenis Cespedes as the team’s DH. Beyond that, Lagares, Ryan Cordell, and Jarrett Parker will serve as the primary back-up options should Marisnick not be ready to go. The team can also use Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil in left field, if need be.
Brian Dozier debuted with the Twins in 2012 after being drafted in the eighth round of the 2009 draft. After spending a majority of his time in Minnesota, he spent a half-season with the NL Champion Dodgers in 2018 before joining the Nationals in 2019. The second baseman put up respectable numbers at the plate last year. In 135 games, he slashed .238/.340/.430 with 20 home runs, a 99 wRC+, and a 1.7 fWAR.
According to Anthony DiComo, neither player is expected to make the team’s Opening Day roster, and they will start the year in the team’s alternate training site in Brooklyn. However, in a strange 60-game season, it’s smart for the Mets to plan for any scenario, and the two players are as capable of stepping in as any player that is currently on their roster.