MIAMI — Seeking more production from their backup outfielder, the Mets on Friday designated Keon Broxton for assignment and called up Carlos Gomez, the former standout Mets prospect and centerpiece in the Johan Santana trade.
Broxton struggled in a part-time role, hitting .143 with a .371 OPS in 34 games (53 plate appearances) after coming over from the Brewers in a January trade for three minor-leaguers. At the time, Broxton’s profile — righthanded-hitting, glove-first outfielder with little offensive success — looked redundant, given Juan Lagares’ presence on the roster.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen said that was “redundant by design” because the Mets were unsure if Lagares, who has a lengthy injury history, would be available. With Lagares healthy (if hitting poorly) and Gomez performing well for Triple-A Syracuse, the Mets decided to make the switch.
“We’re here to win games and we want to always put the team in the best position to do that,” Van Wagenen said. “We felt like Carlos gave us a better chance to do that in the short term than Keon did.”
After signing with the Mets in early March, then having his arrival at spring training delayed by visa issues, Gomez, 33, had a .270/.329/.500 slash line in 35 games after getting off to a slow start. He had one homer in April. In his last 10 games, Gomez had a .343/.410/.886 slash line with five homers and 12 RBIs.
“He obviously has been swinging the bat really well,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “The defense has been outstanding, the leadership, the baserunning. From top to bottom, the reports have been excellent. That’s why he’s up here getting a chance to help us win some games.”
Signed initially by Steve Phillips’ Mets as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2002, Gomez made his major-league debut with the club in 2007. He played in 58 games before getting traded to the Twins — along with three pitching prospects — for Santana that offseason.
Eleven years later, Gomez is back, thanks to Broxton’s failure.
Broxton got cut one day after expressing frustration and surprise with his minimal playing time, saying in part: “I haven’t been playing too much, I haven’t gotten as many opportunities. It’s not like I started out bad. It is what it is, though.”
Van Wagenen said those comments “had nothing to do with the Mets’ decision] at all.”
Gomez took a different approach.
“I expect nothing,” he said. “I’m a guy that likes to earn it, all the jobs. For me, the expectation that I have is to get this team to the playoffs.”
Conforto sees doctor
Michael Conforto, who suffered a concussion Thursday, saw a neurologist in New York on Friday.
“It went relatively well,” Van Wagenen said. “He will refrain from activities over the next couple of days and then we’ll re-evaluate him.”
Conforto does not have a history of concussions, Van Wagenen said.
Callaway said Juan Lagares will absorb most of the playing time in Conforto’s absence. That pushes Brandon Nimmo to rightfield most days. J.D. Davis also is an option in leftfield.
The Mets called up Paul Sewald from Syracuse to take Conforto’s roster spot. They’ll have to make another move to activate Steven Matz, who is scheduled to start Saturday.
Yoenis Cespedes has started running, Van Wagenen said, but the Mets are limiting his “explosive activity.” Per his norm while injured, Cespedes is with the team in Miami this weekend and took batting practice on the field. The Mets aren’t sure if his twin heel surgeries last fall will keep him out all season . . . Jeff McNeil (stiff scar tissue in abdomen) felt better Friday and might return to the lineup Saturday, Callaway said.