The Pittsburgh Pirates remain in the market for a fourth outfielder, and the New York Mets are reportedly listening to trade offers for a player that fits that bill perfectly
Juan Lagares has two years and $15.5 million left on his contract. So if the Mets trade him, the team that lands Lagares will get him for the next two seasons. With the Pittsburgh Pirates in the market for a fourth outfielder, could Lagares be a trade target?
The contract that Juan Lagares comes with is a very affordable one. This, of course, is always something to take into consideration with the cost-conscious Pirates. Additionally, Mike Puma notes that the Mets would be willing to pick up some portions of Lagares’ contract which should make him even more attractive to Neal Huntington and the Pirates.
Throughout his Major League career Juan Lagares has rotated between starting outfielder and fourth outfielder for the New York Mets. However, he has the makeup of a fourth outfielder.
He has struggled offensively the entire time he has been in the Major Leagues. In 1,770 career plate appearances, he owns a .297 on-base percentage, an ISO of .108, a .289 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 84. However, Lagares has always been an excellent defender. He owns a lifetime +79 defensive runs saved (DRS) in the outfield with the majority of this work coming in center field. This work led to him winning the National League Gold Glove Award for center field in 2014, as well as the Fielding Bible Award.
The issue with Juan Lagares and the Pirates is that, even if Andrew McCutchen is traded, Lagares most likely would not be a starting outfielder in Pittsburgh. With the way the roster is currently constructed he would be the team’s fourth outfielder, and even if McCutchen is moved the team would most likely give the starting reps to younger outfielders such as Jordan Luplow and then eventually top prospect Austin Meadows.
The problem that lies in that is the Mets view Lagares as a starting outfielder and the package they would expect in return for Lagares will reflect that. Due to this, a team in need of starting outfield help has more incentive than the Pirates to pursue Juan Lagares and would almost assuredly offer more in a trade.
While, on paper, Juan Lagares would seem like a great fit as the Pirates’ fourth outfielder it most likely is not a fit. The main reason for this is the Mets’ asking price may be higher than what the Pirates are willing to pay for a fourth outfielder. That said, Neal Huntington should still contact Sandy Anderson about the 28-year-old defensive wizard.