This Week in the Mets Offseason: Keon Broxton and What it Means

My plan for this week’s article was to deeply discuss the benefits Marwin Gonzalez and AJ Pollock would bring to the Mets if the team was able to sign one of them.

However, earlier today the Mets completed a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers to acquire outfielder Keon Broxton in exchange for reliever Bobby Wahl and two low-level prospects. The deal went under the radar as there were no reports that trade discussions were occurring until the deal was complete.

This addition can only mean one of two things. The first is that Brodie read my Christmas wish list and decided to get Mets fans a cheap player to platoon with Juan Lagares. While I suggested signing Cameron Maybin, this trade accomplishes the same task.

Broxton will platoon with Juan Lagares, likely starting 30% of the games, with Lagares getting the majority of the starts and he will be used for speed and defense off the bench late in games. Broxton is an elite defender, like Lagares, which will make the Mets outfield defense one of the best in baseball with Conforto and Nimmo, both above-average defenders, playing the corners.

Keon Broxton has elite speed and some pop in his bat. In 276 games he has 50 stolen bases and in 2017 he hit 20 home runs in 143 games. However, he is a free swinger that struggled last season and was demoted three separate times.

He has a career .221 batting average and .313 on-base percentage, underwhelming numbers, but his defense makes him a valuable 4th outfielder.

Now, this deal can mean the Mets have decided they want to go into the season with Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton as their defense-first center fielders and hope that Yoenis Cespedes comes back after the All-Star break to give the Mets lineup a boost. This would mean the Mets Opening Day lineup would look something like this:

  1. RF Brandon Nimmo
  2. SS Amed Rosario
  3. 2B Robinson Cano
  4. LF Michael Conforto
  5. C Wilson Ramos
  6. 3B Todd Frazier
  7. 1B Jeff McNeil
  8. CF Juan Lagares
  9. P deGrom

Bench: Keon Broxton, Travis d’Arnaud, Dom Smith, TJ Rivera, and Luis Guillorme. (Peter Alonso could be the Opening Day first baseman, but will likely be brought up in late April to give the Mets an extra year of control over him)

That is a solid lineup that could easily be dangerous with steps forward from Rosario and McNeil, as well as consistency from Conforto, a breakout rookie year from Alonso, and a repeat of last season from Brandon Nimmo. Even without all of that happening this lineup should be better than the one the Mets had last season when Cespedes originally went down.

If the trade for Broxton is the end of moves for the outfield the Mets still should sign someone to backup Rosario, and that player should be Asdrubal Cabrera, but I can talk about that another day.

In all likelihood, this will be what the Mets head into the regular season with on the offensive side as they may add one or two major league relievers before spring training begins.

The other possibility is that this trade was a precursor to trading away Juan Lagares and his 9 million dollar contract. Broxton and Lagares are very similar players, defensive gurus that swing from the right side of the plate and don’t contribute much offensively.

Now that the Mets have Broxton they could trade Lagares to a team that is willing to take on his entire contract and use that money to sign AJ Pollock or Marwin Gonzalez, the only two outfielders on the free agent market that I think fit the Mets really well.

I don’t think this is Brodie Van Wagenen’s current plan, but if the market on Pollock falls to a point that the Mets are comfortable with, or if they can sign Gonzalez to a contract they like, while knowing there are a few teams that would like Juan Lagares, then that is something that could easily happen.

Since I was planning on discussing Pollock and Gonzalez this week, I will talk about them, but I won’t go too far in depth.

Pollock

AJ Pollock is a great defensive center fielder that can hit for power and would really lengthen out the Mets lineup. He is someone that would be perfect for the Mets if he could stay healthy. I don’t see Yoenis Cespedes coming back until August at the earliest because when has any of his rehabs ever gone according to plan?

Even when he does come back his bat might be as scary as ever, but will he be able to play more than 4 games a week? Probably not. This means that Pollock, Conforto, and Nimmo would all still be able to play just about as much as they would without Cespedes on the roster.

Pollock would give the Mets a true power bat that I think this team needs to truly say they are going for it. Yes, he has injury concerns, but if the Mets can get him for 4 years 60 million or less then it is worth a shot to make the Mets lineup a strength, not just a solid part of the roster.

Last season he had a slash line of .257/.316/.484 with an OPS of .800. He drove in 65 runs, hit 21 home runs, 21 doubles, and 5 triples in 113 games. That is above average production that would be welcomed with open arms to the Mets lineup. An Opening Day lineup with Pollock would look like this:

  1. RF Nimmo
  2. LF Conforto
  3. 2B Cano
  4. CF Pollock
  5. C Ramos
  6. 3B Frazier
  7. SS Rosario
  8. 1B McNeil
  9. P deGrom

Bench: Keon Broxton, Travis d’Arnaud, Dom Smith, TJ Rivera, and Luis Guillorme. (Peter Alonso could be the Opening Day first baseman, but will likely be brought up in late April to give the Mets an extra year of control over him)

That is a pretty strong lineup that the Mets starters would like to have in order to give them a little more breathing room.

Gonzalez

Marwin Gonzalez is just about the exact opposite of AJ Pollock but his benefits are just as useful. Gonzalez is the epitome of a super-utility player. He can handle every position on the infield at an above-average rate and can play both left and right field well.

If the Mets signed him after trading Lagares he would mostly start in left field, pushing Nimmo to center, and Conforto to right. Nimmo is a solid center fielder, but not as good as Pollock, Lagares, or Broxton.

While Gonzalez would spend the majority of his time in left field with the Mets I could see him starting a few times at first, if Alonso starts the year in the minors, allowing Broxton to start in center. He also would be able to be the backup shortstop, starting there 15-20 times when Rosario needs some rest.

Before Cespedes returns and after Alonso stakes his claim at first base, Gonzalez would be the everyday left fielder while covering in the infield if needed from time to time.

After Cespedes returns he could platoon with him because as I said before, I don’t see Cespedes being able to play more than 4 games a week, leaving 3 games for Gonzalez, plus he can play a game a week for Conforto and Nimmo or anyone on the infield.

In 2020, Todd Frazier is no longer under contract, so if Cespedes is fully healthy they could move Gonzalez to third full-time, filling that hole with ease. In 2021, Cespedes is a free agent and the Mets could conceivably move Gonzalez back to left field if they wanted. His flexibility makes him extremely valuable.

His offense is not anything crazy, he is less productive than Pollock, but he is still an average hitter with pop in his bat. Last season, he had a slash line of .247/.324/.409 with an OPS of .733. He drove in 68 runs, hit 16 home runs, 25 doubles, and 3 triples. That is solid output that is much better than what Lagares or Broxton will provide.

An Opening Day lineup with Gonzalez would look like this:

  1. RF Nimmo
  2. SS Rosario
  3. 2B Cano
  4. LF Conforto
  5. C Ramos
  6. 1B Gonzalez
  7. 3B Frazier
  8. P deGrom
  9. CF Broxton

Bench: Keon Broxton, Travis d’Arnaud, Dom Smith, TJ Rivera, and Luis Guillorme. (Peter Alonso could be the Opening Day first baseman, but will likely be brought up in late April to give the Mets an extra year of control over him)

Either Gonzalez or Pollock would be better for the Mets than what they have now and they are not out of the question entirely, but they are much less likely to occur unless the Mets move Lagares and his contract.

January 5, 2019

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