Every offseason, the New York Mets add an outfielder we should refer to as the sixth outfielder on the roster. It’s a guy with some good and bad qualities. Sometimes he’s youngish. Other times he’s a little bit older.
Just when you thought they wouldn’t do it this year, the team added Travis Jankowski to the organization. It’s not a horrific move. If he makes the major league roster, he’ll earn just over a million bucks. Steve Cohen cleans his microwave with less.
The Jankowski addition shouldn’t have you feeling good or bad. He’s a depth piece and nothing more than this year’s version of Albert Almora, Jake Marisnick, and all of the other sixth outfielders the team has employed in recent seasons.
Should the Mets have any expectations for Travis Jankowski?
The need for Jankowski is a little curious because of the presence of Khalil Lee and Nick Plummer. I convinced myself these two athletic outfielders would be enough to provide the Mets with the outfield depth they could need. Add in Daniel Palka for offense, Johneshwy Fargas for speed and defense, and the young upside of Carlos Cortes and Jake Mangum and the organization looked pretty well set before this addition.
As we learned early on last season, there’s no such thing as too much good depth.
Whether they were trading a dollar for Cameron Maybin or making Billy McKinney into a fan favorite, the Mets searched high and low for answers in 2021. The team suffered countless injuries to their outfielders. For a period, it didn’t seem like they could find any answer.
A guy like Jankowski won’t be any sort of answer to the problem but at least he can play serviceable defense at all three spots. If last year’s offensive performance was any indication (.252/.364/.351 in 157 big league plate appearances) then maybe he’s a little more useful than your average emergency outfielder.
For whatever it’s worth, Jankowski does have a history of stealing bases. He stole 71 one year in the minor leagues. In 2016, when he played in 131 games for the San Diego Padres, he managed to swipe a major league career-best 30.
Jankowski’s only realistic option to see a spot on the Opening Day roster is for one of the position players to go down with an injury or get traded. There’s simply not room for him otherwise.
In which case, feel good about this signing. The Mets can save a dollar rather than rent a veteran outfielder for two weeks in May.