The Mets may not be spending piles of cash in the free-agent market, but they’re certainly burning through stacks of organizational currency.
That trend continued Sunday when general manager Brodie Van Wagenen pulled off two more trades — and his third in 24 hours — by shipping catcher Kevin Plawecki to the Indians for righthander Walker Lockett and infielder Sam Haggerty as well as sending three minor-leaguers to the Astros for utility piece J.D. Davis and infielder Cody Bohanek.
Once the Mets signed catcher Wilson Ramos to a two-year, $19-million deal last month, the only question left was who would be the backup, and now that has been answered. The Mets evidently preferred Travis d’Arnaud’s greater offensive upside over Plawecki despite the fact that d’Arnaud is coming off Tommy John surgery that limited him to four games last season.
Plawecki’s days in Flushing appeared to be numbered once the Mets agreed on a one-year, $3.5-million deal to bring back d’Arnaud rather than non-tendering him because of his lengthy injury history. D’Arnaud will turn 30 next month and has never lived up to what many saw as his potential, partly because of his inability to stay on the field.
As far as the return for Plawecki — a former first-round pick (35th overall) from the 2012 draft — the Mets are hoping for some much-needed rotation insurance in Lockett, who made his major-league debut last season for the Padres.
Lockett, 24, was 0-3 with a 9.60 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance for San Diego. He was named the Padres’ minor-league pitcher of the year in 2016 and has a 4.15 ERA in 101 minor-league games, including 85 starts. The Indians traded for him in November.
Haggerty, 24, batted .239 with four homers, 26 stolen bases and a .753 OPS in 94 games split between Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Akron.
In Sunday’s other trade, the Mets expect Davis, 25, to help bolster the corner spots, both infield and outfield, after handling those positions in 66 games for Houston the past two seasons. He won the PCL batting title last year, hitting .342 with 17 homers and a .988 OPS for Triple-A Fresno. Davis also was the closer for his college team at Cal State Fullerton and had four strikeouts in 2 2⁄3 relief innings for the Astros.
“J.D. is a versatile offensive talent,” Van Wagenen said in a statement. “He’s young, had success vs. lefties and he’ll provide depth at the corner positions.”
The Mets could use more of a plate presence from the right side, and Davis has stung lefties for a .350 average with 27 homers in 266 at-bats over his last three minor-league seasons. Sounds like a Wilmer Flores replacement, with the ability to play the outfield as well.
Davis batted .175 (18-for-103) with one homer in 42 games for the Astros last season.
In the span of 24 hours, Van Wagenen dealt Plawecki and acquired Davis and outfielder Keon Broxton, two depth players who cost him a total of six minor-leaguers, including Bobby Wahl, the hard-throwing reliever acquired from the A’s last season in the Jeurys Familia deal. Davis came at the expense of three younger players still in the early stages of their development.
Outfielder Ross Adolph, 22, was the Mets’ 12th-round pick in last year’s draft and batted .276 with 12 triples and seven homers in 61 games for Class A Brooklyn. Infielder Luis Santana, 19, hit .348 with four homers in 53 games for Rookie League Kingsport. Catcher Scott Manea, 23, batted .261 with 12 homers in 100 games for Class A Columbia.
The Mets have invested $49 million this offseason in a pair of free agents, Familia and Ramos, and taken on a net cost of roughly $62.5 million in the deal for Robinson Cano and new closer Edwin Diaz.
Rather than continue to shore up the roster in what is becoming a buyer’s free-agent market, Van Wagenen has dipped into his limited supply of minor-league chips, dealing away nine — including a pair of former first-rounders — in trades specifically designed to strengthen the 2019 roster.