Juan Lagares is battling Eric Young Jr. for the third spot in the New York Mets outfield. Opening Day is three weeks away, and manager Terry Collins is not sure which outfielder he wants in the everyday lineup.
Lagares has vast range in center field and a mighty arm. Baserunners would be foolish to stretch extra base hits against him. Whoever is on the mound for the Mets can be confident Lagares will catch fly balls his way.
The Mets are impressed with his defensive prowess, but they expect more than flashy plays and outfield assists. He posted a .242/4/34 slash line in 121 games last season with just a .281 on-base percentage and .352 slugging.
General manager Sandy Alderson spoke candidly about Lagares on March 1 to NJ.com:
But ultimately it’s about hitting. He’s outstanding defensively, but you gotta play pretty outstanding defense, pretty consistently, to make up for deficiencies offensively. So that’ll be the question.