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New York Mets: Jed Lowrie’s health raises some early concerns

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CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 7: Jed Lowrie #8 of the Oakland Athletics rounds the bases on a two run home run during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on July 7, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 7: Jed Lowrie #8 of the Oakland Athletics rounds the bases on a two run home run during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on July 7, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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New York Mets infielder Jed Lowrie may not be ready for Opening Day. When is it time to panic?

When the New York Mets signed Jed Lowrie to a two-year $20 million contract, the expectation was for him to mainly play third base and serve as depth throughout the infield. Bolstering the team’s depth, many cheered when the move was announced. On the other hand, many jeered, thinking that Lowrie was not the right guy to add.

Now, Lowrie is already questionable for Opening Day, making people wonder if they should have gone a different direction.

Lowrie, who will be 35 in April, was diagnosed with a “capsule strain” in his left knee. The injury could sideline the switch hitter through Opening Day, forcing him to start the year on the disabled list.

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Last year, Lowrie was an All-Star and played in 157 games, but this could turn into a bad signing for the Mets if he is not ready for Opening Day. His durability has been proven over the past two seasons with the Oakland A’s. However, because of his age, the knee injury is a little more alarming.

The Mets need Lowrie to be available for Opening Day for a multitude of reasons. The main reason is for his production. In 2018, Lowrie hit a career-high 23 home runs and 99 RBI. The Mets would love to add that quality of production to their lineup.

With Lowrie mainly playing third, this would enable the Mets to push Todd Frazier over to play first base, allowing Pete Alonso to start his season in the minors.

If Alonso is able to start the year in the minors, the Mets can still call up Alonso later in the month and delay the start of his service time. This would buy an extra year of control of Alonso, adding an extra season of arbitration eligibility.

Despite Alonso being ready for the majors now, it is valuable to delay his free agency, so the club keeps control of him for another year. Lowrie’s health is a crucial factor in this situation. The Mets already have a built-in excuse to demote him to Triple-A; his defensive struggles.

Another reason why this signing looks bad is Marwin Gonzalez’s new contract with the Minnesota Twins. The Twins signed Gonzalez to a two-year $21 million contract, just a little more than Lowrie’s deal. Many had already preferred Gonzalez for the Mets over Lowrie.

Gonzalez, who is turning 30 next month, was preferred because he is younger, has more postseason experience and can play the outfield. The Amazins decided to make a move earlier in the offseason and go with Lowrie rather than wait for Gonzalez.

Gonzalez could have played several places if the Mets were to sign him. We may have seen him as the primary left fielder with Jeff McNeil taking over at the hot corner.

The Gonzalez contract seems to be better than the Lowrie deal for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, Lowrie’s knee injury creates even more speculation about his signing. If he opens the year on the injured list, the pessimists’ worst nightmares will come true.

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A healthy Lowrie is vital to the Mets. Hopefully, he does not miss too much time and the team can continue their plan and start the season off strong with a roster of 25 men that provide them with plenty of depth.

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