When the Mets signed Jed Lowrie ahead of the 2019 season, it was a bit of curious move. The Mets had plenty of options for all four infield positions, with the greatest need at shortstop, which was the position that Lowrie was least suited to play entering his age 35 season. But the move felt like new GM Brodie Van Wagenen attempting to add some depth and a solid bat as insurance in case Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Robinson Cano, Pete Alonso, Todd Frazier, J.D. Davis, and/or Pete Alonso faltered. It wasn’t a slam-dunk signing, but it was a fair, relatively short contract that would, if nothing else, give the Mets another solid bat in their lineup.
Looking back on the signing now, it seems like one of the worst in recent team history. Lowrie’s season was disrupted due to a myriad of injuries, including, but not limited to, a strained left knee capsule, hamstring strain, and calf strain. This situation led to an amazing quote from Van Wagenen that will go down in the annals of all-time injury updates:
“I’m not going to get into any more details beyond the fact that his left side needs to be working in concert with each other,” Van Wagenen said. “The knee to the hamstring, we want to make sure that the kinetic chain is working together and that his posture and his functionality is working.”
Lowrie collected just eight plate appearances in 2019, good for one walk, no hits, and four strikeouts. When making those eight appearances, he wore a knee brace that was visible from space, or at least the upper deck, and never looked healthy enough to do anything other than pinch hit.
Lowrie somehow didn’t improve, health wise, from September to the start of spring training, as he was still limited to pinch hitting. It wouldn’t be absurd to think that the delay of the season would allow Lowrie to rest and heal up a bit more, but summer camp brought the same, with Lowrie hitting the Injured List again this week.
Somehow, the Mets managed to sign an incredibly productive player at the exact moment his career fell off a cliff, with almost no explanation. There’s a very slight chance that Lowrie is a productive Met for some of the 2020 season, but with the laundry list of healthy infielders the Mets have right now, it seems far more likely that Lowrie will join the ranks of Jason Bay and Mo Vaughn as one of the least successful free agent signings in team history.