Mets officially sign Wilson, designate Cecchini
NEW YORK -- One Met's beginning is another Met's end. In making official their two-year, $10 million pact with Justin Wilson on Monday, the Mets designated infielder Gavin Cecchini, their first-round Draft pick in 2012, for assignment, possibly ending his time in the organization.
The move came as a bit of a surprise given Cecchini's pedigree, but the former 12th overall pick has struggled to break into the big leagues in recent years. Now 25, Cecchini missed most of last season after fouling a ball off his foot in early May. Before that, he had shown some breakout potential, enjoying a strong spring and following it up with a .301 average and .816 OPS in 31 games in the Minors.
But Cecchini's longer-term lack of production -- he has just a .399 career slugging percentage in the Minors, and a .571 OPS over parts of two big league seasons -- and the Mets' influx of new infielders made him expendable. Over the past two months, the Mets have added Robinson Cano and Jed Lowrie to their middle-infield mix, pushing Jeff McNeil to the outfield. Luis Guillorme leapfrogged Cecchini on the depth chart last summer and T.J. Rivera, who is now fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, could also play a role going forward.
Drafted as a shortstop, Cecchini dealt with throwing issues earlier in his career that pushed him to second base on a nearly full-time basis.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
If no team claims Cecchini off waivers, the Mets can still outright him to their Minor League system. They could have designated a pitcher such as Andrew Gagnon or Tim Peterson for assignment instead of Cecchini, but opted to keep their pitching depth intact.
Wilson only adds to that depth, coming off a season in which he struck out 69 batters over 54 2/3 innings. On an introductory conference call Monday, Wilson said that the Mets told him he will pitch in high-leverage situations, both against left-handed and right-handed batters. For his career, Wilson actually features reverse platoon splits, which he credits to pitching consistently inside on righties. The hard thrower fired more than 90 percent fastballs last season, relying on both a cutter and a slider that bear in on right-handed hitters.
"I've always gotten righties out as good or better than lefties," Wilson said. "I do pitch in a lot on right-handed hitters, and I think that's part of it. I try to get it off their barrels."
In New York, Wilson gives the Mets another back-end option beyond closer Edwin Diaz, setup man Jeurys Familia and incumbents Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. The Mets are likely to fill out their bullpen with some combination of Luis Avilan, Hector Santiago, Daniel Zamora, Drew Smith, Kyle Dowdy, Eric Hanhold and others, hoping to be vastly improved from the bunch that ranked 28th in the Majors in reliever ERA last season.
"I'm just really happy to be a Met, and play for a contender," Wilson said. "Clearly, the back end of the bullpen is now in great shape."