The Mets and Brodie Van Wagenen seemingly ushered in an era of super-utility players Wednesday afternoon, introducing Jed Lowrie at Citi Field, while further underlining the importance of versatile pieces who can provide insurance in case of injury.
Lowrie, 34, signed a two-year, $20-million contract, and will shift among second, third and shortstop while playing almost every day, Van Wagenen said, and provide a switch-hitting bat that can be slotted between Brandon Nimmo and Robinson Cano, in the two spot.
“Versatility is something that we really wanted to create on this roster,” Van Wagenen said. “We’ve talked a lot this offseason making sure we were covered in the event of the inevitable adversity happens to our club …We don’t have a second line of defense, we have All-Star players all around the diamond that can play at multiple positions, and that’s what I think Jed does.”
Lowrie did make the All-Star team for the first time last season, achieving career highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (99) while hitting .267. But he also furthers a trend that likely will come even more into focus as the season draws nearer: The Mets also signed J.D. Davis, who can play multiple infield positions, the outfield, “and in a pinch, he can even pitch,” Van Wagenen said. Todd Frazier probably will play first and third, he said, and Jeff McNeil, a second baseman, also will be transitioning into the outfield.
Van Wagenen said the front office was unanimous in its interest in Lowrie, and was in contact as soon as November.
“I’m excited to be a Met,” Lowrie said. As for playing time: “I think those things always seem to work themselves out … It’s about winning, and you need depth to win. I’ve been told that I will be a regular, so that’s what’s I’m going into it thinking.”
Van Wagenen said Lowrie will be the first in line to play shortstop behind Amed Rosario, though Lowrie hasn’t played the position since two games there in 2016. If Frazier does transition to first – depending on how far along Peter Alonso gets in his development and how he does – Lowrie said he was comfortable playing third, where he’s appeared for 145 games in his 11-year career.
Lowrie has had his two strongest years at the ages of 33 and 34, and he attributes that primarily to health (he played only 69 games in 2015 and 87 in 2016).
According to Roster Resource’s disabled list tracker, the Mets were the second-most impacted team by injury last year and had 28 DL stints.
“It’s about being healthy and getting in a good routine, and those routines start in the offseason, and you try to carry them through the year and you put a lot of time and effort into staying healthy,” Lowrie said. “That’s not always guaranteed, so you just continue to work to be on the field.”
Jed Lowrie's versatility will be tested in the 2019 season. Here's the breakdown of where he's played in the infield during his 11-year career:
Position Games played
First base 11
Second base 412
Third base 145
First base 0
Second base 136
Third base 14