Mets activate Juan Lagares off disabled list after trading Jay Bruce

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 10: Juan Lagares
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 10: Juan Lagares /

Juan Lagares had been on a rehab assignment for the past week with Double-A Binghamton at the time of the trade

With Jay Bruce out of the picture after Wednesday night’s trade, the New York Mets have activated Juan Lagares to fill the vacated roster spot. Lagares spent the past week on a rehab assignment with Binghamton after being placed on the disabled list with a fractured thumb in mid-June.

The Mets made a long-term investment on Lagares after his Gold Glove season in 2014. He was signed to a five-year deal worth north of $23 million. In the years since, his career has been sidetracked by injuries.

Lagares played in just 79 games in 2016. This year he has only suited up in 47 games. He will return to his regular role in the outfield, which has opened up more after the trade. Lagares will most likely still share time in center with Michael Conforto who has adapted well in that spot.

Lagares is a defensive stud and his injury came at the worst time from an offensive standpoint. After a slow start to the season, Lagares began to heat up, hitting .355 with six RBI in 12 June games before he went down with the thumb injury.

Meanwhile with each passing day, Mets fans are wondering when Dominic Smith’s time will come. The Mets dumped as much salary as possible so they will probably look to offload Neil Walker or Curtis Granderson for next to nothing in return. The head scratcher in all this is the Mets don’t have a first baseman on their roster now. The closest to that is Wilmer Flores.

This season is already lost and the Mets are only maximizing their financial return, not their prospect return as they were rumored to before the July 31 trade deadline. No matter if Smith winds up struggling or setting the world on fire, he should be allotted as much time as possible at the big league level.

If there is still interest in either Granderson or Walker, I would expect a deal to get done soon. That should in theory be the last domino leading up to Smith’s call-up, which really should have already happened.

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The outfield picture is presently a lot clearer beyond this season. Conforto has emerged as a breakout player and will alternate between center and right with regular playing time. Yoenis Cespedes is obviously anchored in left. That leaves Lagares and Brandon Nimmo to fill out the outfield depth chart for 2018 unless the Mets attack free agency, which could mean attempting to bring Bruce back.