The New York Mets completed an infield makeover this week, trading Jonathon Niese to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Neil Walker and signing free agent Asdrubal Cabrera.
The moves were a surprise after the Mets spent much of the early offseason pursuing Ben Zobrist, who spurned them to rejoin his former manager Joe Maddon with the Chicago Cubs.
You’d have to guess that the Opening Day lineup will feature Lucas Duda at first base, Walker at second, Cabrera at shortstop and David Wright at third.
I’m not sure that’s any better than the 2015 Opening Day infield of Duda, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores and Wright… but it’s not any worse. And on the plus side, Flores provides a better option off the bench than John Mayberry Jr.
But the Cabrera signing is still a bit of a puzzle for me. With news coming out of Venezuela this week that Flores fractured his left ankle playing winter ball, Ruben Tejada recovering from a broken leg sustained during the NLDS, and Wright dealing with spinal stenosis for the rest of his life, adding infield depth is not a bad idea.
However, the defending National League champion needs a better starting outfield than Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson. And their batting order is still missing a real leadoff hitter and a right-handed power hitter to complement Duda and Granderson.
Denard Span, if healthy, could be that leadoff hitter. Yoenis Cespedes could provide the power. Either would have filled a more obvious need than Cabrera, but unless the Mets have more surprises in store I don’t see how either fits into their 2016 payroll plans.
It’s only December 10th, so the Mets’ front office certainly has time to work it all out… let’s see what else they do.