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Mets sign another catcher, and could Khalil Lee become the Mets surprise contributor?
New York adds to their catching depth and a potential new voice for their radio team
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
The Mets brought in some additional catching depth on Thursday, re-signing veteran Michael Perez to a minor league contract (NY Post)
Patrick McCarthy, father of Phillies’ play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy, is under consideration to join the Mets radio team (NY Post)
MLB Network ranked Francisco Lindor the league’s fifth-best shortstop on the annual Top Ten Right Now list (Video)
17 days until Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie! ⚾️🌴
Could 2023 finally be Khalil Lee’s chance to break through?✍🏻
Every single good baseball team has to get a handful of surprise contributions from surprising places over the course of a rigorous six month season.
Even if it’s for one moment in one game which helps the team chalk up a win.
On last year’s 101-win Mets team for example, names like Nick Plummer, Patrick Mazeika, and of course, Nate Fisher immediately come to mind. None of the three were particularly important pieces for New York over the long haul, but they all delivered big time moments that helped contribute to what was a dominant team for most of the 2022 campaign.
Thinking ahead to the 2023 season, this got me wondering which players we haven’t been talking about nearly enough who could end up bursting on the scene and delivering lasting memories.
And the one guy I keep circling back to is outfielder Khalil Lee.
New York acquired Lee from the Royals in a three-way trade in February 2021 when they had virtually no outfield depth at the upper levels of the minor leagues. Injuries forced him to the big leagues in May, well before he was really ready, and it didn’t go particularly well. He struck out in his first eight Major League at-bats before coming up with a clutch extra-inning double in Miami.
Last season Lee only appeared in two big league games and took only two at-bats for the Mets—but one of them resulted in a long opposite field home run in Anaheim.
The 24-year-old had an uneven minor league season, slashing .214/.330/.370 and striking out an eye opening 150 times in 384 at-bats. But he also delivered 39 extra-base hits and brought a plus glove in the outfield.
Heading into 2023 it kind of feels like a make or break season for Lee. He’ll turn 25 in June and has played in over 600 minor league games. If he fails to force a call-up this season, it begs the question if his ceiling is that of the stereotypical Four-A player—productive in the minor leagues but overpowered in the bigs.
But here’s the thing with the ‘23 Mets.
If he can hold up his end of the bargain there could very well be an opportunity available for him here. We learned yesterday that Starling Marte’s status for opening day could be in question while he continues his recovery from core surgery.
Should Marte miss any time early in the season, the Mets would probably start Tommy Pham in the outfield or potentially play Jeff McNeil in left with Luis Guillorme at second. Or some combination of both of those options. But in that scenario Lee would be their top available outfielder in the minor leagues should another need arise.
And even if it’s not early in the season, looking at the Mets outfield as a whole, it’s easy to see how Lee could sneak onto the big league roster. We know that Marte and Brandon Nimmo will obviously be starting nearly every day if they’re healthy. But Nimmo is also the only left handed outfielder on the team, McNeil’s ability to play some corner outfield notwithstanding.
If an injury to someone like Pham or Mark Canha were to occur, it’s entirely conceivable Lee would get called up and have the potential to get some run in left field with the other one of those guys becoming the right handed designated hitter.
One way or another I’d be willing to bet we’ll see Lee at some point in 2023, and how well he takes advantage of his opportunity could very well dictate how many more chances he gets.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Orioles acquired left handed starter Cole Irvin from Oakland in a trade that also included two minor leaguers (Passan)
Houston has hired former Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown as their new GM (Passan)
Miami outrighted lefty Daniel Castano off the 40-man roster (Miami Herald)