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June 17, 2019

Unpacking how the Mets traded for Keon Broxton, then DFA’d him in just four months

May 18, 2019

Four months ago, Keon Broxton represented a competitive outfielder with a track record of making spectacular defensive plays. He was traded by the Brewers in January and sent to the Mets for three minor-league prospects. Flash-forward two months into the regular season, and the Mets designated Broxton for assignment.

So, what happened?

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For one, Broxton produced a .143 batting average across 34 games for the Mets. The 29-year-old went 1 for his last 25 at-bats by the time he was DFA’d before the Mets’ game against the Marlins on Friday night in Miami. He lacked the results the Mets needed not just at the plate, but defensively as well.

The Mets designated Keon Broxton for assignment just four months after trading him. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Broxton had a poor big-league resume with the Mets. But his job of coming off the bench and putting up quality at-bats with limited opportunities wasn’t easy. It led Broxton to add extra pressure on the few at-bats he earned. In May, he entered just four games at the plate.

“At this point, I don’t really think it matters,” Broxton said on Thursday after striking out with the bases loaded to end the Mets’ 7-6 loss against the Nationals. “I think everybody in this game knows it’s really hard to come off the bench and do it. Get one [start] a week, if that, is definitely tough.

“When I get in there, I try not to think I haven’t had as many at-bats as everybody else, or haven’t had regular playing time. I just try to get in there and get good pitches and put a good swing on it.”

Broxton’s playing time with the Mets was going to be limited from the moment he was acquired. His skillset is extremely similar to that of outfielder Juan Lagares, and Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said he acquired Broxton for depth in case anything went wrong with Lagares.

Lagares missed most of the 2018 season after suffering a hyperextended left big toe and torn plantar plate in mid-May. The injury-prone outfielder had missed a year and the Mets had yet to see him play when the team signed Broxton. But the point remains: There were always very few differences between the two outfielders.

“At the time when we made the decision to trade for Keon, we were looking for a defense-first outfielder that had the versatility to play multiple positions,” Van Wagenen said. “So originally, that position was redundant by design. And we didn’t know how the offseason was going to unfold and how spring training was going to unfold.

“I don’t think there’s any regret because our focus was to make decisions based on the needs of the club at that particular time. And unfortunately for both sides, this one didn’t quite work out.”

Van Wagenen admitted Broxton had the tall task of competing with infrequent plate appearances. But he cited other Mets who have so far been successful in that role, including infielders Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis.

“Keon had the challenge of not playing all that frequently. I think his performance suffered as a result of that,” Van Wagenen said. “I think it’s hard for any player to adjust to a new role. It’s hard for any player to find rhythm and consistency when you’re not playing every single day. Keon worked hard, Keon brought a good attitude. But he just wasn’t able to produce the results.”

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COLLISION CONCUSSION

Michael Conforto was placed on the seven-day injured list on Friday with a concussion he sustained in the Mets loss against the Nationals on Thursday.

Conforto did not travel with the team for their three-game series in Miami and took a train to New York for get evaluated by a neurologist on Friday. Van Wagenen said the appointment went well, all things considered, but the concern level for Conforto is “hard to tell.”

“When a player suffers a concussion, you need to give him a few days to settle down before you determine it,” Van Wagenen said. “We’ll shut him down from activity over the course of the next few days and evaluate it early next week.”

Conforto collided into Robinson Cano’s shoulder while attempting to catch a pop up off the bat of Howie Kendrick in the third inning Thursday. He immediately flopped face first on the ground, seemingly unconscious for a few moments. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said he was “dazed” and stumbling around so Conforto came out of the game.

The right fielder was batting .271 with nine homers and 21 RBI, nine doubles and a .926 OPS over 42 games for the Mets this season. Conforto had hit a three-run homer to tie the game against the Nationals at 4-4 before departing for the clubhouse.

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