The rumors that the Mets are not looking to spend more money this offseason are seeming to be more and more likely with each day that passes by. It is believed the Mets Front Office is going to wait until late January or early February to fill out their roster.
The reason for this is that prices will drop when players are without a team and get desperate. The thought process is smart, but there is no guarantee that players worth signing will still be available deep in the offseason, which will most likely mean the players on the team currently will be the starters this year.
If that is the outcome then one player currently on the Mets roster may have an opportunity to earn a huge role this upcoming season.
That player is Juan Lagares, a player that seemed to be turning into a core piece of the future back in 2014 when he won the Gold Glove while hitting .281 with a .321 OBP in 116 games. Unfortunately, Lagares took a step back in 2015 on both sides of the ball and fell out of the plans that the Mets had.
In 2016 and 2017 Lagares proved himself on the defensive side of the ball, but he never got any better at offense and was used as a fourth outfielder. Along with his struggles at the plate, he has struggled to stay on the field with various injuries ranging from a broken thumb to a strained hamstring. These injuries have kept him off the field for weeks at a time, hurting his stock
With his injuries and offensive struggles he hasn’t received consistent playing time since 2015 but may have a shot at that consistency this season. Like most players, Lagares performs better when he gets consistent playing time, so his hitting woes may come to an end if he earns himself a spot in the teams starting lineup.
To improve his worth on the field Juan has worked with Launch Angle Gurus this offseason to change his swing. The people he is working with helped turn around the careers of Josh Donaldson, Justin Turner, J.D. Martinez, and others.
James Wagner of The New York Times wrote an in-depth piece on the changes that Lagares is planning to make in his swing. Now Lagares has just started to work with these trainers and I don’t think anyone is expecting him to become a power bat anytime soon, but he could improve his ability to hit the ball hard and in the air.
The past few seasons Lagares has been hitting the ball on the ground at a high rate which leads to easy outs. Working with these trainers and former teammate, who is the poster boy for the Launch Angle push in baseball, Daniel Murphy may be just what Lagares needs.
Now Lagares is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, if not the best, so he doesn’t need to do anything crazy he just needs to be an average hitter.
If Lagares can become a .270 hitter with a .330 OBP and it 10-15 home runs with extra base hits mixed in, then he would be a Center Fielder that any team would want in their lineup every day. Lagares is 28 and in his prime athletic years so this is his time to prove himself even if it is because the team isn’t willing to spend on proven players in the free agency.
Lagares has an opportunity to get back in the good graces of the Mets Brass and fan base, we will see if he takes advantage of this and turns into the star he seemed destined to become years ago.