With Daniel Murphy the front-runner at first base, Fernando Tatis his righthanded backup and top prospect Ike Davis waiting at Triple-A Buffalo, it seems like an odd time for the Mets to welcome back Mike Jacobs.
But now that Jacobs has signed a minor-league deal that could be worth as much as $2 million with incentives, it looks like Jacobs, a more experienced first baseman, could push Murphy in spring training and also provide insurance against injuries.
The Mets traded Jacobs to Florida in 2005 in a four-player deal for Carlos Delgado, and it’s a strange coincidence that they opted for Jacobs this time around with Delgado at home in Puerto Rico contemplating retirement. Jacobs has had mixed success since the trade, slugging 32 homers for the Marlins in 2008 before slipping badly in Kansas City last season.
Jacobs, 29, hit 19 homers with 61 RBIs in 128 games for the Royals, but batted .228 with a .297 on-base percentage and struck out 132 times in 478 plate appearances. Jacobs also doesn’t seem like an everyday option at first base, considering that he hit .178 (18-for-101) against lefthanders last year.
The Mets have yet to formally announce the acquisition of Jacobs, but word leaked out late Tuesday shortly after the team held a conference call to talk about Keith Hernandez’s tutoring sessions with Murphy.
Murphy has been working with Hernandez, an 11-time Gold Glove winner, in an effort to improve defensively. Although the Mets believe in Murphy’s upside, both defensively and at the plate, the signing of Jacobs is likely to set up a competition for the job in spring training.
The Mets also have Davis at Buffalo, so there does not appear to be much room for Jacobs at any level. Davis won the Sterling Award last year as the organization’s top minor-league performer and he could even push for playing time at the major-league level this season.