So now Bautista is a Met, chasing the team that just cast him aside. The Mets had the need because of injuries to Yoenis Cespedes (strained right hip flexor) and Juan Lagares, who is probably out for the season after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left big toe. Without them, they needed an outfielder who hit right-handed; the original lineup Tuesday included three left-handed outfielders against the Marlins lefty Caleb Smith.
“We’ve had to go with essentially the same three outfielders, and most of our depth at Triple-A is left-handed,” Alderson said. “We had been looking at the possibility of a right-handed bat in the outfield to spell our other outfielders and give us some offensive potential against a left-handed pitcher.”
Whenever Cespedes returns — he is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, but has not yet resumed baseball activities — Alderson said Bautista could still be a useful fifth outfielder, behind Jay Bruce, Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo.
Bautista would be the third Met on the roster well into his mid-30s, joining Adrian Gonzalez, 36, and Jose Reyes, who turns 35 next month. The Mets are not the Nationals, who just called up the 19-year-old Juan Soto, or the Braves, who recently promoted the 20-year-old Ronald Acuna Jr. They are not the Phillies, who have nobody on their active roster over 32 years old.
They are the Mets — old in some places, and flawed. But they are also still over .500, at 24-19 before Tuesday’s game, with two truly elite starters in Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. They are 18-3 when scoring at least four runs, so taking a chance to improve their offense was an easy and obvious move.
The Mets’ hopes hinge much more on the progress of their other three starters — Steven Matz, Jason Vargas and Zack Wheeler — than on complementary pieces like Bautista. Matz, Vargas and Wheeler entered Tuesday’s game with a 4-9 record and a 6.07 earned run average.
Bautista might not be finished as a productive player, but even if he is, he will not hurt the Mets very much. If Matz, Vargas and Wheeler are finished, though, the Mets’ playoff chances may be irreparable.