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Mets bring in Kemp on Minor League deal

@AnthonyDiComo
May 25, 2019

NEW YORK -- A spate of injuries earlier this month forced the Mets to promote two-thirds of their Triple-A outfield to the Majors. As a result, the team is filling in the gaps at Syracuse. On Friday, New York signed Matt Kemp to a Minor League contract, hoping he can

NEW YORK -- A spate of injuries earlier this month forced the Mets to promote two-thirds of their Triple-A outfield to the Majors. As a result, the team is filling in the gaps at Syracuse. On Friday, New York signed Matt Kemp to a Minor League contract, hoping he can provide insurance for their big league roster.

The Mets recently promoted veterans Carlos Gomez and Rajai Davis to the Majors because Michael Conforto (concussion), Brandon Nimmo (neck inflammation), Jeff McNeil (left hamstring strain) and Yoenis Céspedes (recovery from multiple surgeries) are all on the injured list. No qualified outfielder left at Syracuse owns a batting average above .231.

The Mets hope that Kemp, 34, can change that, despite hitting just .200 with one home run in 20 games for the Reds. Cincinnati released him on May 4, while he was on the injured list recovering from a broken left rib.

Kemp, however, is just one season removed from slugging 21 home runs with a .290/.338/.481 slash line for the Dodgers. He is a three-time All-Star who has hit 281 career homers, and has been particularly effective at hitting left-handed pitchers. Kemp owns a lifetime .314/.373/.538 mark against lefties.

"He obviously still has a pretty high ceiling," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "He's been playing well the last couple of years. He had a good year very recently. So we're going to send him down to Florida ... and get him in playing shape and see what we've got. Just another piece that, at some point, may be able to help us."

Defense is a different story for Kemp, who produced -3 Defensive Runs Saved in 124 innings for the Reds. He has not posted a positive total in the outfield since 2009, when he was 24 years old.

Given that the Mets’ current outfield mix is completely right-handed, it may take an injury for Kemp to see playing time in Flushing. But New York has already suffered plenty of those. While Conforto is due back this weekend, Nimmo and McNeil are both out indefinitely, and Cespedes is sidelined for the rest of the season.

Earlier this week, the Mets claimed veteran Aaron Altherr off waivers from the Giants. He, Gomez, Davis, Kemp and J.D. Davis -- a natural infielder who has been starting in left -- are the Mets' primary options in the outfield right now, at least until Conforto returns.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.