Much like last winter, Brodie Van Wagenen’s first major league transaction of the Mets’ offseason is a trade. But this one isn’t as big of a splash.
Just after the one-year anniversary of the Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano blockbuster-turned-disaster, the Mets filled one of their needs Thursday by acquiring centerfielder Jake Marisnick from the Houston Astros for two prospects.
The Mets view Marisnick as a cheaper and better replacement for Juan Lagares, who became a free agent when the team declined his $9.5 million option for 2020 last month.
A strong, fast defender, Marisnick has some pop but has been a below-average hitter in his career. He owns a .227 average, .280 OBP and .380 slugging percentage in parts of seven seasons, numbers that were marginally better in 2019.
Marisnick’s best year was 2017, when he had a .243/.319/.496 slash line and a career-high 16 homers for the World Series champion Astros. That team, which also included Mets manager Carlos Beltran and third baseman/leftfielder J.D. Davis, is being investigated by Major League Baseball for allegedly illegally stealing signs.
But it is Marisnick’s glove that is most attractive to the Mets. They sought a defensively talented centerfielder and they got one, albeit in the form of a part-time player.
“Jake is an elite defender who is an incredibly smart baserunner,” Van Wagenen, the Mets’ general manager, said in a prepared statement. “Among our offseason plans was to improve defensively and he is one of the best in the game.”
Van Wagenen was not made available for further comment on what Marisnick’s playing time might look like, how Brandon Nimmo’s role changes and how frequently he might play leftfield, and what this trade means for the Mets’ gaggle of others who play left (Jeff McNeil, Davis, Dominic Smith, maybe Yoenis Cespedes).
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, speaking to Houston reporters, said he discussed Marisnick trades with three or four teams since the GM meetings in November. The Mets were “the most aggressive and the most interested.”
Marisnick is eligible for salary arbitration — projected by MLB Trade Rumors to get $3 million — and is scheduled to be a free agent next offseason.
This is the Mets’ second trade with the Astros in as many offseasons under Van Wagenen. Last year, they got Davis — buried on the deep Houston depth chart — for three minor leaguers.
This is also the Mets’ second trade for a glove-first, bat-second centerfielder in as many offseasons. Last year, they got Keon Broxton from the Brewers for three players. The Mets cut Broxton after he hit .143 in 34 games.
(Coincidentally, also Thursday, Milwaukee used one of the former Mets prospects, Adam Hill, to acquire catcher Omar Narvaez from the Mariners.)
Neither of the prospects the Mets sent to Houston for Marisnick ranked among their top 30, according to MLB Pipeline’s rankings.
Lefthanded reliever Blake Taylor, 24, had recently been added to the 40-man roster after a strong year in the Arizona Fall League and the minors (2.16 ERA across three levels). The Mets acquired him in the April 2014 Ike Davis trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Outfielder Kenedy Corona, 19, made his pro debut in 2019, hitting .301 across three levels and reaching short-season Class A Brooklyn by the end of the season.
Mets add two non-roster invitees. The Mets signed corner outfielder Jarrett Parker and utilityman Max Moroff — both of whom have played parts of four seasons in the majors — to minor-league contracts with invitations to major-league spring training.
Parker, 31 next month, had a .266/.394/.535 slash line with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate last year. He is represented by CAA, Van Wagenen’s former agency.
Moroff, 26, has played second base, shortstop and third — and has dabbled in left and right. He was injured for much of 2019 but split the year when healthy between the Indians (20 games) and their Triple-A team (34 games), not hitting much at either level.