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Mets sign Desmond Jennings to minor league deal

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Mar 3, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Desmond Jennings (27) during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 3, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Desmond Jennings (27) during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
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The former top prospect was released by Cincinnati last week.

The Mets announced on Wednesday that they signed outfielder, Desmond Jennings to a minor league deal and that he will be assigned to AAA Las Vegas. The signing is more than likely an insurance option considering the health of Juan Lagares.

Jennings signed a minor league contract with Cincinnati in early February after a seven-year tenure ended with Tampa Bay last season. His spring numbers were not impressive (.195 batting average in 41 at-bats). He hit two homers, drove in nine runs, and stole two bases. The issue of Jennings making the team was further compounded by a hip injury he suffered late in spring. He was released on March 31.

It has been a fall from grace for Jennings, who was once considered one of the top prospects in baseball (sixth overall by Baseball America before 2010). Jennings came up with plus speed, but could never consistently get on base. He hit .245 with the Rays while slugging 55 homers and stealing 95 bases.

With Lagares injured, Jennings fills in as a potential back-up option to platoon with Curtis Granderson in center. He’s provided solid defense over the years in Tampa Bay and gives another speed option. If Jennings finds his way up to the parent club, he’ll provide an option as a potential late inning defensive substitution, pinch runner, and a right-handed bat against lefties. Jennings has hit .264 against southpaws in his career.

The main concern is Jennings hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Outside of the hip issue in spring training, Jennings has dealt with various injuries over the years. He has played in just 93 games over the last two seasons.

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Jennings enters a hitter’s ballpark in Las Vegas, so it will be interesting to see if he can get into a rhythm. If he does and the oblique injury lingers for Lagares, then that provides the best avenue possible for Jennings to get back to the majors.

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