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Mets Exit Interview: A final farewell to Juan Lagares in 2019

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Juan Lagares #12 of the New York Mets reacts as he runs the bases after his fifth inning two run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on September 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Juan Lagares #12 of the New York Mets reacts as he runs the bases after his fifth inning two run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on September 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 21: Juan Lagares #12 of the New York Mets reacts after he made the catch for the out in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Citi Field on August 21, 2019 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

What Went Wrong

There are some ballplayers who need consistent at-bats to perform. Others can come off the bench and pick up a hit whenever you need him to. The 2019 version of Lagares couldn’t do either all that well.

When Lagares was playing consistently at the beginning of the year, it looked like a major mistake to ever believe he was capable of full-time or even platoon action. Only for the short stretch in the second-half would we see glimmers of positive production.

The final slash line of .213/.279/.326 he posted this past season all set new career-lows. Perhaps most amazing of all, Lagares was pretty unproductive in the outfield as well. For the first time in his seven seasons, he posted a negative WAR on defense.

The Mets gave Lagares a serious shot at getting regular at-bats. After a promising start to 2018 ended prematurely due to season-ending surgery, there was hope he could rattle off a fine season for the Mets in 2019. It never happened.

Look at just about any number he posted in 2019 and you’ll probably find it ranked as one of the worst of his career. Even his four stolen bases were quite pitiful when compared to the three he had in significantly less time the season prior. Lagares gave the team Triple-A production at a major league price.

The Mets’ fatal mistake was trusting Lagares many years ago. They signed him to a big-boy contract with the hope that he could remain a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder with an average bat. His decline over the years due in large part to regular injuries all led up to what you can argue was the worst season of his career.

At age 31 next year and with no contract, the timing couldn’t be worse.

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