Mets trade for CF help, get Marisnick from Astros

December 6th, 2019

NEW YORK -- Because he spends his offseasons in Southern California, was still asleep when the Mets acquired him from the Astros on Thursday around 7 a.m. on the West Coast. His girlfriend came upstairs to wake him.

“She goes, ‘Hey, it looks like you’ve been traded,’” Marisnick said via telephone later Thursday, laughing as he relived the moment. “And then all the calls started coming in after that.”

Seeking a right-handed defensive complement to in center field, the Mets struck Thursday by acquiring Marisnick for prospects Blake Taylor and Kenedy Corona. The move provides them with what general manager Brodie Van Wagenen called “an elite defender who is an incredibly smart baserunner.” It provides Marisnick with a change of scenery after spending the past six years in the Astros organization.

“It’s a little different atmosphere than Texas, that’s for sure,” Marisnick said. “I’m excited. Just the vibe around the Mets when we were watching them last year from Houston, they looked like they were playing with some hunger and some passion, so I’m excited to come into that and add to that.”

Marisnick, 28, is a plus defender in center field, posting Defensive Runs Saved totals of +12 and +5 there the past two seasons. He also finished the 2019 season with 8 Outs Above Average, which tied for 11th highest among Major League outfielders, and has posted positive totals on FanGraphs’ baserunning metric every year of his career. While Marisnick isn’t likely to displace Nimmo from center on a full-time basis, he should give the Mets flexibility in using Nimmo both in center and left field.

“It’s a big part of my game, going out and taking care of the baseball,” Marisnick said. “It’s something I prided myself in coming up, and my years with the Astros, it’s been something that’s been big for me and big for them. So I’m excited to bring that over, hopefully come in and add a spark, have some fun and bring some energy.”

Offensively, Marisnick is a career .227 hitter with pop in his bat, particularly against left-handed pitchers. Twenty-three of his 54 career homers have come against lefties, including nine the past two seasons. Marisnick’s only above-average offensive year came in 2017, when he hit .243/.319/.496 with 16 homers and nine steals as Carlos Beltrán’s teammate. Now, he will play under Beltrán, the Mets’ new manager.

Essentially, Marisnick is a replacement for Juan Lagares, who roamed center field on a part-time basis for the Mets from 2013-19. Marisnick’s skill set makes him a natural complement to Nimmo, a left-handed hitter and superior offensive player who lost significant time to a neck injury last season. The Mets figure to use Marisnick to spell Nimmo on occasion.

“Among our offseason plans was to improve defensively, and he is one of the best in the game,” Van Wagenen said in a statement.

Outside of pitching, center field was the position the Mets seemed most eager to upgrade this offseason, with little depth behind Nimmo, , and . As the roster is currently constructed, McNeil and Davis should find their reps mostly in left field and at third base, with Conforto serving as the Mets’ everyday right fielder.

The Mets could have acquired an everyday center fielder such as Starling Marte to shift Nimmo to left on a full-time basis, but doing so would have cost significantly more in terms of both dollars and prospects. MLB Trade Rumors projects Marisnick, who is under team control for one more season, to make $3 million in his final year of salary arbitration.

Neither Taylor nor Corona ranked among the Mets’ Top 30 Prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. The former is a lefty reliever whom the team recently added to its 40-man roster; he throws hard but has seen mixed success in the Minors. The latter is a 19-year-old outfielder who has appeared in just 63 professional games.

Van Wagenen also appears to have a certain comfort dealing with the Astros. Last winter, he acquired Davis from Houston in a five-player deal that has been, so far, his most productive move as GM. In New York, Marisnick will reunite with Davis, his teammate for parts of two big league seasons in Houston.

“It’s something I didn’t expect on this day,” Marisnick said. “It was a little surprising, but it’s a welcome change.”

Mets sign two

In a separate transaction Thursday, the Mets signed outfielder and infielder to Minor League deals, inviting both to Spring Training. Parker, 30, has some power in his 6-foot-4 frame, using it to club 15 home runs in 397 career Major League plate appearances -- mostly with the Giants. Moroff, 26, profiles as more of a defensive-minded infielder.

The Mets previously signed reliever Chasen Shreve, a veteran of six big league seasons with the Braves, Yankees and Cardinals, to a Minor League deal.