I am by no means a scout, but when in Port St. Lucie in late February, a Jarrett Parker batting practice session made me stop and take notice. His smooth, left-handed swing was depositing balls deep into the berm at Clover Park, and a player I was really only vaguely aware of was now on my radar.
Despite hitting a couple of solo home runs before camp shut down, 2020 doesn’t look to be the year that Parker makes his mark on the Mets. Parker is the type of perfectly cromulent signings teams make every winter: a veteran player with some tools that hasn’t found a way to stick yet comes in on a flyer. It’s a win/win for the team; if there’s something untapped there, the team gets a cheap, useful tool. If it doesn’t work out, they didn’t go too deep into their pockets for the mistake.
Parker is primarily a corner outfielder, which means that he is basically in the same boat as every outfielder in Mets’ camp not named Marisnick or Lagares. While Parker has played five big league games in center, he’s not going to be competing for the backup job there. And, sadly, that looks like the only place the Mets really need help in the outfield.
In parts of four seasons for the Giants and Angels, Parker has never accrued more than 177 plate appearances in a season, showing a little bit of power, but also a tendency to strike out and not much of an eye. He’s the definition of a fifth outfielder, but the Mets are the rare team this year with at least six viable options to play in the outfield, and each of them has more of an upside than Parker.
For Parker to get significant playing time, something would have to happen to at least three of the following players, maybe even all five: Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, and Jeff McNeil. Even for the Mets, that seems like a string of bad luck that’s almost unfathomable.
But then you remember that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and positive tests have already started popping up around baseball. If Parker can stick with the team on the 60 man player pool, there is an outside shot that he gets a chance to play for the Mets this season. However, if the starting lineup for more than a couple of games has Parker’s name in it, the chances of a Mets postseason are likely off the table.