The Ducks have signed outfielder Matt den Dekker, making him the second former Met signed by the team in March. They announced the signing of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who played parts of four seasons in Queens, on March 19.
Den Dekker said that two main factors contributed to his decision to sign with the Ducks. One was new manager and another former Met, Wally Backman, whom den Dekker played for in the Mets minor league system and was hired by the Ducks in November. The other, and one that Atlantic League brass no doubt is pleased to hear, is the existence of enhanced scouting technology in all eight Atlantic League ballparks.
The latter, a product of the deal struck between MLB and the Atlantic League this offseason, will allow all 32 major league organizations to automatically receive comprehensive breakdowns of Atlantic League games, allowing them to scout the league – widely considered the best independent one in the country – more easily.
Theoretically, this will increase the chances of players being signed to major-league affiliates during the season, something that was music to den Dekker’s ears.
“That’s kind of what drew me to this league and, with Wally [Backman] being there, there wasn’t another club I would have gone to,” den Dekker said Thursday on an introductory conference call. “The familiarity, just playing for him in the past, made that decision easy.”
Den Dekker played for Backman at various stops through the Mets organization, where the new Ducks skipper coached from 2009-16, managing at all three levels.
“You know what you’re going to get,” den Dekker said of Backman. “He’s not going to sugarcoat things. He’ll let you know if he expects more from you. If you’re playing well, he’s going to let you know and if you’re not playing well and he thinks you could do something better, he’ll let you know. He’s pretty straightforward. He wants you to come to the park ready to go and ready to work. He’s always been a manager to have your back too, so that’s always a good thing when you’re out there playing.”
Den Dekker played parts of six seasons in the majors, suiting up for the Mets, Nationals, and Tigers. He played 88 games over three seasons with the Mets and hit .219 with one home run and 14 RBIs. He went 0-for-18 with two walks and an RBI in eight games last season with the Mets , but hit .278 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs in 87 games with Triple-A Las Vegas.
The numbers were not good enough for him to land a spring training invite, something that came as a surprise.
“I thought I played well enough to get a job,” he said. “The numbers from Rriple-A were good last year — big leagues not so much — but I thought I’d get a shot, at least to go to camp with a team and try to earn a spot. As spring training got closer, then came and went, I had to make a decision. When my agent talked to be about coming to play on Long Island, I thought about it for a few days, and, just with working in the offseason and training, I wanted to give it a shot and see how things played out. I’m looking forward to it.”
DUCKS SIGN LOMBARDOZZI
The Ducks added another former big-leaguer to their roster this week with the signing of former National Steve Lombardozzi. Lombardozzi, whose father of the same name played for the Astros and Twins from 1985-90, played for the Nationals from 2011-2013. Lombardozzi also played for the Orioles, Pirates, and Marlins.
He hit .273 with three home runs and 27 RBIs in 126 games with Washington in 2012, his best big-league season.
This will be Lombardozzi’s second go-round in the Atlantic League. He played 40 games for Southern Maryland in 2016.
The Ducks had nine former Major Leaguers on their roster as of Friday. They open their season on April 26 in York, Pennsylvania.