New York Mets make a trio of intriguing free agent signings

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10: Mallex Smith #0 of the Seattle Mariners takes a swing during an at-bat in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at T-Mobile Park on August 10, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. The Rays won 5-4. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10: Mallex Smith #0 of the Seattle Mariners takes a swing during an at-bat in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at T-Mobile Park on August 10, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. The Rays won 5-4. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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The New York Mets added 11 players on minor league deals this week, including three intriguing names.

With new ownership in place and a desire to make a statement in the National League with the possibility of a big splash or two in free agency, fans of the New York Mets are buckling in for an exhilarating offseason, while many teams around the league slash payroll and remain quiet.

Free agency began just a few days ago and while there have already been a handful of rumors floating around, it could be a while before we see some of the bigger names available on the market sign, but a few teams, like the New York Mets, have started to add free agents on minor league deals.

The Mets recently added 11 players to minor league deals, per Tim Britton of The Athletic, but three names in particular stand out as possible intriguing signings.

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The most interesting name is 27-year-old outfielder Mallex Smith. A five-year MLB veteran, Smith was a 3.5 fWAR outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays as recently as 2018 and led all of baseball with 46 stolen bases in 2019 as a member of the Seattle Mariners.

But it’s been a struggle for Smith to not just stay on the field in the big leagues, but remain on the big league roster.

He played in 14 games this season, slashing .133/.170/.178 with a wRC+ of -5 before being removed from the roster. Smith will now attempt to rebound from back-to-back disappointing seasons with the Mets, likely as a backup center field option.

While the bat hasn’t been there for much of his career, Smith does have 120 career stolen bases and that speed can be an asset. It hasn’t translated to much success defensively (-13 Defensive Runs Saved in 2019), but as a late-game option, Mallex Smith may be able to provide a little bit of value.

Another interesting signing is RHP Arodys Vizcaino. Vizcaino has logged just four innings since the start of the 2019 season after having surgery to repair a torn labrum, but he could quietly be a solid low-key signing for the New York Mets.

Vizcaino pitched in parts of six seasons for the Atlanta Braves, so he’s very familiar with NL East foes. Across 201 games, Vizcaino posted a 2.95 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 214 strikeouts in 189 innings with the Braves. He also saved a total of 50 games during his tenure with Atlanta.

He hasn’t pitched in a long time, but if Vizcaino’s stuff is close to what it was before surgery, the Mets may have themselves a reliable bullpen option.

Lastly, there’s infielder Jose Peraza. Despite a well-below league-average bat, Peraza’s defensive versatility (played second, short, third, and outfield last season) was sure to make him attractive to a few different teams on a similar minor league deal.

Peraza played in 34 games for the Boston Red Sox this season, slashing .225/.275/.342 with 10 extra-base hits. Like Mallex Smith, Peraza was a valuable player as recently as 2018 when he was worth 2.6 fWAR with the Cincinnati Reds. He hit 14 home runs with 31 doubles and stole 23 bases, his third-straight season with 20+ stolen bases.

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These aren’t the high-profile free agents the New York Mets are looking to bring in this offseason, but they can become key role players and valuable depth options with the right opportunity.