The Matt Adams signing came as a surprise to many New York Mets fans. Let’s try to make some sense of this new addition.
The signing is the latest in a long line of veteran acquisitions that Van Wagenen has been able to make during his short tenure with the team. Last season, players like Rajai Davis and Joe Panik were able to make significant contributions to the major league team. Former All-Star Eduardo Nunez, veteran righty Erasmo Ramirez, and former Met Rene Rivera have also been added to the organization to provide emergency depth for the 2020 season.
These types of acquisitions have been one of Van Wagenen’s biggest strengths as a major league GM.
While each of the aforementioned players all carries name recognition, perhaps none are as exciting as adding a player of Adam’s caliber. The slugger finished the 2019 season with 20 home runs and 56 RBI in 310 at-bats. His 11 career pinch-hit homers are also the most among all active MLB players. While his career .261 average leaves something to be desired (he hit just .226 last season), there is no questioning his ability to hit balls out of the park.
Adams profiles as an immediate difference-maker as a bat off the bench. He also brings eight years of experience at first base, while adding a considerable amount of postseason pedigree (including a World Series victory as a member of the Washington Nationals last season).
Smith is expected to serve as the primary backup to rising star Pete Alonso while also being the first bat off the bench. Adams, while seven years older, is capable of filling each of those roles. The redundancy in skill sets has let to widespread speculation that both players will not be retained on the active roster.
While many Mets fans would prefer to keep Smith in hopes his value increases, there is a real chance the team elects to exchange him for depth at other positions. In the worst-case scenario, he could even become a sweetener in a move that allows New York to clear salary by trading players like Jed Lowrie or Jeurys Familia.
Smith, the former 11th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, still has considerable upside. However, Alonso’s breakout rookie campaign has blocked him from consistent playing opportunities in Queens. The Adams signing may signal the two parties are finally ready to part ways as they both seek to improve.
At the end of the day, the Adams signing should be considered a major victory on all fronts. The “win-now” Mets expect to be serious contenders for a postseason berth. Not only does Adams represent one of the most dangerous pinch hitters in the league, but he also provides valuable insurance in the event of an unexpected injury.
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This is a great move by Brodie and his team.