Looking to add quality versatility to his infield mix, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen dipped into his former client pool and made Jed Lowrie the latest significant addition to New York's much-improved roster.
The Mets and Lowrie have agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract. The club announced the deal Wednesday. The 34-year-old infielder is coming off an All-Star season during which he helped the A's make a surprising run to the postseason.
Before joining the Mets in October, Van Wagenen was an agent whose client list included Lowrie, a fellow Stanford Univerity alum, who is coming off the two best seasons of his career. The versatile switch-hitter slugged a career-high 23 home runs and produced an .801 OPS while logging 157 games for the first time last year.
With Robinson Cano already slated to serve as the Mets' second baseman, Lowrie could be utilized in a super utility role. His presence as a switch-hitter would give manager Mickey Callaway more opportunities to create optimal matchups and provide rest for Cano, third baseman Todd Frazier and 22-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario, who has just one full Major League season under his belt.
Since enduring a second consecutive injury-plagued season in 2016, Lowrie has distanced himself from his previous medical issues, and he established himself as one of the game's top infielders. The 4.9 fWAR produced last season ranked third among Major League second basemen, trailing only the Cubs' Javier Baez (5.3) and the Royals' Whit Merrifield (5.2).
Lowrie has always been regarded as a sure-handed infielder, but his recent success has been fueled by a much-improved bat. Lowrie produced a career-best .808 OPS as he hit .277 with 14 homers in 2017. The park and league adjusted 120 OPS+ he has produced each of the past two seasons stands as the highest mark Lowrie has manufactured within any season he has totaled more than 55 games.
Most of Lowrie's recent production has come from the left side of the plate. He batted .273 with 19 homers and a .841 OPS against right-handers in 2018. Against left-handers, Lowrie hit .254 with four homers and a .713 OPS.
Lowrie could occasionally spell Rosario, who produced a .654 OPS against right-handers and a .743 OPS against lefties last year. There may also be a desire to have him face some tough right-handers in place of Frazier. But the veteran third baseman was worse against left-handers (.534 OPS) than he was against right-handers (.752) during his disappointing 2018 season.