Mets may have been better off with Asdrubal Cabrera than Jed Lowrie
By Tim Boyle
Did the New York Mets overpay for Jed Lowrie when Asdrubal Cabrera was available at a much cheaper price?
Would have. Should have. Could have. It feels like there’s a lot of that with the New York Mets over recent seasons. There’s plenty of second-guessing even before guys suit up for the orange and blue.
Infielder Jed Lowrie is one of those new Mets fans are unsure about. Coming off a career-year in 2018, he’s set to take some playing time away from the other infielders. Specifically, he should see plenty of action at third base in place of Todd Frazier.
Lowrie will take home $10 million in each of the next two seasons. Meanwhile, the slightly younger and possibly more talented Asdrubal Cabrera will make only $3.5 million this season on a very team-friendly deal he signed with the Texas Rangers.
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There’s no doubt the Mets needed an infielder with the talent to play multiple positions. The loss of Wilmer Flores created a hole Lowrie will fix and more. He’s definitely an everyday player, but I have to wonder if they overspent on him when Cabrera was still available at a fraction of the cost.
During his two and a half years with the Mets, Cabrera hit .279/.339/.464. He struggled down the stretch with the Philadelphia Phillies last year, batting only .228/.286/.392. Even so, I hope the Mets at least considered bringing him back in a reserve role.
Lowrie and Cabrera are comparable players. Specifically, the last three seasons show how close they measure up.
Since 2016, Lowrie has hit .270/.347/.420 with an average of 16 home runs per 162 games. His .767 OPS drags down from the struggles he faced in a less-impressive 2016 campaign.
During those same three seasons, Cabrera has hit .274/.334/.456 with an average of 23 home runs per 162 games. He owns a .790 OPS during this time which slightly edges out Lowrie’s total.
Based on the numbers, Lowrie is the better OBP guy while Cabrera wins in the power categories.
Lowrie may have the greatest advantage on Cabrera when it comes to defense. He posted positive defensive metrics in recent years while Cabrera has not. Lowrie isn’t about to end the organization’s Gold Glove drought, but he’s clearly a better fielder than Cabrera.
Aside from the money, the age and Cabrera’s experience with the Mets are what attracts me more. Citi Field is not known for favoring hitters yet Cabrera posted pretty good numbers there. In 200 games and 766 plate appearances at Citi Field, he’s a .260/.324/.454 hitter. The slash line does include time spent in other team’s uniforms so read into that as much as you desire.
Lowrie turns 35 this April while Cabrera won’t celebrate his 34th birthday until November. Committing two years to Lowrie is a little scary to me.
After the 2017 season, the Mets signed a 34-year-old coming off the lone All-Star season of his campaign, Jason Vargas. Circumstances are different, but I can’t help but feel the Mets have overpaid for a guy they didn’t really need. There were other options like Cabrera out there for far cheaper.
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Had the team gone with Cabrera over Lowrie, the possibility of spending in other areas would be far greater. Instead, we’ll have to hope my concern is unwarranted.