NEW YORK -- The non-waiver Trade Deadline is approaching, and for Mets players, that means on any given night, their trade value will be evaluated. On Thursday night in a 5-4 loss to the Nationals at Citi Field, Jose Bautista left impressions, as he has over the past month, proving his worth.
Bautista was one of multiple big-name veteran free agents this season who remained unsigned when Spring Training began. On April 18, the Braves signed him to a Minor League deal, and after nearly a month, Bautista was released from the organization, having posted a .143 batting average in 12 games.
The Mets signed the utility player on May 22, and they have been extremely pleased with what the veteran has brought to the organization.
"He's been tremendous, his at-bats have been great," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "You move him around to anywhere you want in the field, and he plays really solid defense, whether it's left, right, third. He made a really great play at third tonight, and his leadership has been really, really good."
Bautista went 2-for-3 with a homer, an RBI single and a walk. He also flashed leather at third, snagging Anthony Rendon's grounder in the ninth and firing to Wilmer Flores at first for a dazzling play.
After Thursday, Bautista is now 11-for-23 in career at-bats against the Nationals' Max Scherzer, who is one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues with a 2.41 ERA.
Mets pitcher Steven Matz went 6 1/3 quality innings, giving up three runs and striking out four. Rendon was a nightmare for the Mets, however, hitting two home runs off Matz in his first two at-bats for Washington's first three runs.
The Mets were persistent, though, scoring in the bottom of the first on a Bautista RBI single that brought Asdrubal Cabrera home. Bautista stepped up to the plate again in the bottom of the fourth and led off the inning with a home run to left-center field, cutting the deficit to one.
In the seventh inning, Bryce Harper crushed a two-run homer off lefty specialist Jerry Blevins, giving the Nationals a three-run lead. Kevin Plawecki responded in the bottom of the inning with a solo homer and Cabrera brought the Mets within one with a homer in the eighth, but that was all they could muster.
The Mets will be faced with options in the coming weeks regarding who they will trade by the Deadline, but the good news is that they have players like Bautista who become more valuable every time they step on the field.
"He comes to play every single day, and he doesn't ever want to come out of the lineup," Callaway said. "He just wants to go out there and play. He has fun, and he's been having a lot of success for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Matz escapes jam: In a situation that could have been detrimental to Matz's night -- the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning -- the left-hander forced Trea Turner to pop out to Flores at first base to end the frame.
Bautista's .478 career batting average against Scherzer is the second-highest average against the Nats' ace. The Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo posts a .583 average.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Not only did Bautista destroy the ball on a solo home run to left center, but he also destroyed a fan's drink. The ball soared out over the fence and knocked the drink right out of the fan's hand.
BECK ACCEPTS MINORS ASSIGNMENT
After being designated for assignment on Monday, the Mets announced after Thursday's game that right-handed reliever Chris Beck, has cleared outright waivers and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Las Vegas. Beck appeared in six games for the Mets this season and posted a 5.23 ERA across 10 1/3 innings.
Set to take on the Nationals at Citi Field on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET, Noah Syndergaard will make his first Major League outing back from the disabled list. Syndergaard has not started since May 25. Prior to his right index finger strain, Syndergaard had not allowed more than three runs in each of his past 10 starts. Nats righty Tanner Roark will oppose Syndergaard.