The New York Mets may not have added an impact player to the major league roster this winter, but they are continuing to give veterans a chance to prove themselves by signing them to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training.
On Friday, the Mets signed outfielder Marlon Byrd. The 35-year-old right-handed hitter split last season between the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, appearing in a total of 47 games. He batted .210 with one home run and 9 RBI.
If you prefer modern stats, Byrd was worth -0.4 WAR to the Cubs and -0.1 WAR to the Red Sox last year, and he had a combined OPS+ of 63. To make it even better, the former Philadelphia Phillie was suspended 50 games as a result of a performance enhancing drug test.
Earlier in the week, the Mets signed 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins and 36 year-old Scott Atchison, both right-handed relievers. Hawkins played for the Angels last year, while Atchison was a Red Sox player. Atchison had a really good season in 2012, but missed two months with a torn elbow ligament.
None of these moves are bad, though I’m not thrilled about Marlon Byrd. If these guys represent improvements over the players Sandy Alderson already had, they’ll be in New York on Opening Day. If not, they’ll be headed to Las Vegas or get their release.
But if there’s little risk associated with these guys, there’s also little reward. Byrd and Hawkins are roster-fillers at this stage of their careers, whether that’s in New York or Las Vegas.
Atchison could be more, if he can repeat the success he had in Boston… or he could spend most of the year on the DL.
We’re still waiting for the “real” players to get here… hopefully that will start happening later this summer.