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Mets give Bixler Minors deal with spring invite

NEW YORK -- The Mets announced Friday that they have signed utility man Brian Bixler to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Bixler, 30, split last season between the Astros and the Minors, making the team's Opening Day roster and spending two stints in Houston. A .189 career hitter over a four-year big league career with the Astros, Pirates and Nationals, Bixler hit .193 with two home runs in 36 games last season.

With experience at shortstop, second base, third base and both outfield positions, Bixler should compete for a utility role this spring. He holds a career .731 OPS against left-handed pitching, as opposed to .445 against righties, which could prove significant for a team in need of right-handed bats.

The Mets in particular need right-handed help in the outfield, where Lucas Duda and Mike Baxter -- both left-handed hitters -- are the only guaranteed holdovers from September. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, also a lefty, is a top candidate to start in center field.

The Mets recently agreed to terminate right-handed-hitting outfielder Jason Bay's contract, and seem destined to lose fellow right-handed-hitting outfielder Scott Hairston to free agency.

New York Mets, Brian Bixler