Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen showed off his recruiting skills Thursday night by signing former client and free-agent infielder Jed Lowrie to a two-year deal totaling $20 million, a baseball source said.
The switch-hitting Lowrie, 34, played primarily at second base for the A’s last season and recorded career highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (99), along with an .801 OPS.
Lowrie has played 11 seasons, the last three with Oakland. He has a .262 average and .335 on-base percentage with 104 home runs and 509 RBIs in 1,109 games.
Lowrie, the source said, is expected to be an everyday player with the Mets, though at what position remains to be seen. In addition to second base, the position at which he earned his lone All-Star appearance in 2018, Lowrie has played at first, third and short.
He will not see much action at second for the Mets because Van Wagenen made an early splash by trading for second baseman Robinson Cano. The Mets have Amed Rosario at short, but there likely will be competition at first base between Jeff McNeil, rookie Peter Alonso and possibly Lowrie. McNeil, and now Lowrie, also could factor in at third.
Van Wagenen, formerly of the Creative Arts Agency, represented Lowrie before being hired by the Mets. Lowrie reportedly is represented by Casey Close, Derek Jeter’s agent. Van Wagenen and Lowrie both played college baseball, though years apart, for Stanford.
Lowrie started his career with the Red Sox and hit a grand slam against the Mets in an exhibition game on April 4, 2009, for the first major-league home run at Citi Field. Lowrie also has played for the Astros.
Earlier in the day, the Mets announced the signing of seven-year veteran Luis Avilan to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
A lefthanded reliever, Avilan, 29, pitched for the White Sox and Phillies last season, going 2-1 with two saves and a 3.77 earned run average in 70 appearances. He struck out 51 in 45 1⁄3 innings.
Avilan has held lefthanded batters to a .213 batting average in his career, which includes stops with the Braves and Dodgers. He has a 19-10 career record with two saves and a 3.09 ERA in 399 appearances.
“Luis is a lefthanded quality major-league reliever who addresses another offseason priority,” Van Wagenen said in a statement. “We are pleased to see these types of proven players want to be a part of what we are trying to build.”
With Jerry Blevins a free agent, Daniel Zamora is the only lefthanded specialist on the 40-man roster.
The Mets earlier this week signed 31-year-old lefthander Hector Santiago to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.