It sounds like a really bad movie title, but it’s true: Nick Evans is out of options…minor league ones to be specific. What that means is that if Nick doesn’t make the major league squad out of spring training, he will be exposed to waivers before being able to be assigned somewhere in the Mets minor league system. Evans has had an interesting career, having some success in the minors and a few cups of coffee in the bigs. So what will become of the now 25 year old Nick Evans?
Terry Collins has stated that Evans has a chance to make the Opening Day roster, but that will likely be a decision made much closer to the end of spring training.. One thing is for sure: Evans has produced some pretty torrid numbers in the minors. His career minor league batting line is .274/.341/.479, but he has improved as of late. In 2010, where he split time between Triple A Buffalo and Double A Binghamton, the righty hit .300/.371/.907, smacking 23 homers, while also producing a wOBA of .390 at Binghamton and .408 at Buffalo. In short, Evans was pretty much doing it all offensively.
In the majors it’s been a different story. In 225 big league plate appearances, Evans is hitting just .257/.298/.410 during that time with a wOBA of .304. The numbers though are a little misleading. In 2008, he got off to a rough start, collecting just four hits in his first 24 PA (three of those were in his major league debut, so it was quite a slump after). After being sent down and then recalled from the minors, however, Evans started finding more of a groove, recording 24 hits in 95 PA while starting 20 out of 41 games. 2009 was a struggle, but he performed admirably in 2010, hitting .306/.324/.472 in 37 PA, most of them coming off the bench.
Evans is not going to crack the outfield starting lineup as long as Jason Bay, Carolos Beltran and Angel Pagan are healthy, and he is not going to displace Ike Davis at first (although he’s played more games in the outfield at the major league level, Evans has primarily been a first baseman in the minors). He also will have a tough time making the team as a backup, given that the Mets also invited Willie Harris (a left handed bat) and Scott Hairston (a right handed bat) to spring training. However, Evans actually has some positives going for him.
For one, the fact that Evans can play first base, a position that neither Harris nor Hairston has ever played (majors or minors), as well as the corner outfield spots actually makes him more versatile. Evans also has a pronounced lefty/righty split, which while not ideal for a starter, isn’t that terrible for a backup. Against southpaws, Nick is hitting .322/.379/.512 with a wOBA of .382, wRC+ (weighted runs created scaled where 100 is average) of 135 and a BB/K of 0.38. Against righties, however, Evans hits just .169/.183/.270 with a wOBA of .195, wRC+ of 11 and BB/K of 0.07.
Odds are, the Mets will have Harris on the Opening Day roster because he can play centerfield, and I find it hard to believe they’ll keep both Hairston and Evans because they both play the same position and are both righties. Long term, Evans doesn’t seem to fit into the Mets plans as far as the starting lineup is concerned, but he could be a valuable in a bench role this year and maybe even in the future if he doesn’t want to pursue a starting role on another team. Unless Hairston has an amazing spring, look for Evans to be a surprise addition the major league roster for Opening Day.