New York Mets News: Juan Lagares Signed To Contract Extension


New York Mets News: Mets Agree To Contract Extension With CF Juan Lagares

The New York Mets took a step in the right direction to secure some of their future, as they supposedly agreed to a contract extension with centerfielder Juan Lagares. The extension agreed upon will run through 2019, with a $9.5 million team option for 2020. It will buyout Lagares’ arbitration years, while the option gives the Mets one year after that of potential control of him as well. He will be guaranteed to earn $23 million from 2016-2019, a fair number for both sides.

This is an outstanding signing for the Mets, as they have locked up the best fielding centerfielder in the game. Lagares, 26 years old, is as good as they come in the outfield. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Lagares led all centerfielders with 28 runs saved in 2014. That number nearly doubled the next closest players, as Ender Inciarte of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Leonys Martin of the Texas Rangers each had 15 runs saved from centerfield.

That earned Lagares the Gold Glove award, the first of many he should take home. He is only the third Met to earn the award, joining Carlos Beltran and Tommie Agee.

Defense is where Lagares makes his worth, but he is an improving hitter at the plate. Lagares upped all his batting stats last season in an increased role, slashing .281/.321/.382 in 2014, his first season as the unquestioned starter. Those are vast improvements upon his rookie year stats of .242/.281/.352 when he was mostly used as a defensive replacement.

The improvement at the plate is what gives the Mets confidence in agreeing to a contract extension with him. They continue to show that confidence in him, as Lagares is also slated to be the leadoff hitter for the Mets this season. If he is able to succeed there, the Mets will fill a void they have had since Jose Reyes skipped town. Since then they haven’t had an option at the top of the order consistently, but Lagares has the tools to succeed there.

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His on-base percentage is a little lower than you would hope, as his walk percentage actually dropped with more playing time last season. But he has the speed to hit at the top of the order, and with a guaranteed spot, maybe Lagares can concentrate more on working counts and getting on base now that he is no longer playing for his spot on the team.

Right now, that is a fair price for where he is at offensively and defensively. If he is able to continue his growth as a hitter, the Mets will have quite a bargain on their hands, as he is already an elite defender, something that is becoming more and more worthwhile as front offices turn more to analytics to figure out the true worth of defensive play. This is a win-win for the Mets, as they have locked up Lagares to a fair contract for what he currently gives them, and if he continues to grow as a hitter, they have one of the better bargains in the MLB.

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