The Mets need to find a way to keep Cesar Puello

By Danny Abriano

Before the Mets traded Matt den Dekker to the Nationals, they had a decision to make regarding outfielder Cesar Puello. After dealing den Dekker, the decision should be a simple one: the Mets need to find a way to keep Puello in the fold.

Puello, 23, had a breakout year for Double-A Binghamton in 2013 before struggling with Triple-A Las Vegas last season.

Puello’s 2013 season ended prematurely when he was suspended because of his link to Biogenesis/PED’s, but that suspension was brought about due to a 2012 offense – not something Puello did in 2013.

Looking back at 2013, Puello hit .326/.403/.537 with 16 home runs and 24 steals.

In 2014, with the organization apparently down on him, Puello didn’t start as often and hit .252/.355/.393 for Triple-A Las Vegas.

Puello walked and struck out at about the same rate in both 2013 and 2014, but his BABIP dipped nearly 100 points from 2013 to 2014.

On the 40-man roster and out of options, the decision regarding Puello may turn out to be a simple one: carry him on the 25-man roster or lose him.

If the Mets don’t carry Puello on the 25-man roster, they’ll have to pass him through waivers in order to send him to the minors.

If placed on waivers, Puello (who is young, has five-tool potential, and is inexpensive) will almost certainly be snatched up, potentially by either the Phillies or Braves, who are both in dire need of outfield help.

There are three equally important reasons why the Mets should keep Puello…

1. With Matt den Dekker now gone, the Mets don’t have a major league ready outfielder aside from Puello who would be able to step in if any of their outfielders (starters or otherwise) suffered an injury. Brandon Nimmo will likely not be ready until late in the season (if at all in 2015) and Michael Conforto appears ticketed for High-A St. Lucie.

2. Regardless of the roster construction, Puello – who has a plus arm, plus speed, and the potential to hit for both power and average – is worth keeping.

3. If the Mets do place Puello on waivers, there’s a decent chance a division rival will claim him.

At the moment, it appears that the Mets’ bench will consist of Anthony Recker (catcher), Ruben Tejada (infield), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (outfield), John Mayberry, Jr. (first base/outfield) and Eric Campbell (infield/outfield).

For the Mets, the decision should be easy.

In order to keep Cesar Puello, who is still in camp with the club, all they need to do is flip him with Eric Campbell (who has all of his options) and have Campbell open the season with Triple-A Las Vegas.

Campbell can play all four infield positions and both corner outfield positions, but plays none of them well. If the Mets carry Puello instead of Campbell, the only thing they won’t have that Campbell can provide is a true backup third baseman.

However, if David Wright gets hurt or needs a day off, Daniel Murphy can simply shift over to third base.

Extra versatility on the bench is nice to have, but not if it comes at the expense of losing a player like Puello.

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