As had been rumored, the New York Mets have signed 30 year old former center field prospect Matt den Dekker to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. At the moment, it is not anticipated he will make the Major League roster out of Spring Training. However, with the Mets only having five outfielders on the 40 man roster, he brings with him much needed outfield depth.
As Mets fans may well remember, the main asset den Dekker brings to the table is his defense. In his Major League career, he has played all three outfield positions well posting a career 11 DRS.
Interestingly, den Dekker’s signing is the second time this offseason, the Mets have both parts of a trade. The first such instance was the team re-signing Jay Bruce meaning the team had both him and Ryder Ryan. Back in 2015, the Mets traded den Dekker for Jerry Blevins, and now the Mets have both players.
Original Report: Feb. 13
Back in 2013, den Dekker was considered by some to be the center fielder of the future for the Mets organization due to his sensational and flashy play in center field. That play led then Mets manager Terry Collins to give him playing time in center over Juan Lagares. Ultimately, Lagares proved to be the superior defender winning the 2014 Gold Glove, and the team would trade den Dekker to the Washington Nationals for Jerry Blevins on the eve of the 2015 season.
Since leaving the Mets, den Dekker has only played in 78 Major Leauge games hitting .229/.303/.421 with seven doubles, a triple, six homers, and 16 RBI. Defensively, den Dekker has shown himself capable of playing all three outfield positions posting a positive DRS at each position and an 11 DRS overall in the outfield.
Last year, den Dekker split his time between the Triple-A affiliates for the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers. Overall, he played 79 games hitting .250/.322/.441 with 17 doubles, four triples, 8 homers, and 29 RBI.
Given the current state of the Las Vegas outfield, a reunion with den Dekker makes sense. Aside from Jayce Boyd and Travis Taijeron, the 51s outfielders struggled at the plate last year, and Taijeron is now a member of the Dodgers organization. Looking at possible promotions from last year’s Binghamton Rumble Ponies team, only Kevin Kaczmarski had a productive season at the plate.
Due to the apparent lack of outfield depth at the Triple-A level, the Mets invited Jhoan Urena to the Instructional Leagues to learn the outfield, and the team is now looking to add players like den Dekker to minor league deals.