The Gary Sheffield sweepstakes didn’t last long, as the mercurial slugger signed with the Mets this afternoon. He will reportedly replace Marlon Anderson on the roster, so he’s being given the lowest hurdle to clear in the history of hurdling.
His role is being reported as right-fielder against left-handed pitching and pinch hitter on other days. Given that there weren’t any teams interested in him as a DH, this is probably the best fit he was going to find. With Carlos Beltran entrenched in center field and flanked by Ryan Church and Daniel Murphy, the Mets have three legitimate outfielders who can cover some ground, so they can afford to carry some guys for their bats.
With Fernando Tatis and now Sheffield in the fold, the Mets have some line-up flexibility in the outfield, giving them a pair of L/R platoon options. Sheffield shouldn’t be expected to play the outfield regularly, but as the right-handed portion of a platoon, he won’t be asked to play more than a few hundred innings in the outfield.
Even with his struggles last year, CHONE projects Sheffield as a league average hitter for 2009. If they can limit the amount of time he spends in the outfield and get him at-bats mostly against left-handed pitching, he could be a valuable role player. This is a good fit for both Sheffield and the Mets.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.