Sunday, Matt den Dekker broke his wrist. The only piece of good news is that while he will have to wear a cast for a month to six weeks, he will not need surgery.
Still, this is pretty bad news for den Dekker. If he takes his cast off on June 1, he would still be a few weeks from game action. Even then, wrist injuries tend to sap a hitter’s bat control and power: two areas in which the 25-year old den Dekker did not have any room to decline. He was not a realistic candidate to make the Opening Day roster. Again, he hit .220/.256/.373 in 77 games in AAA last year with 90 strikeouts – a a 28% strikeout rate. In 45 PA this spring, he was no better: .205/.222/.364 with one walk and 16 strikeouts – a 36% strikeout rate. I have lowered my offensive expectations for den Dekker from poor in the big leagues, to poor in AAA.
This injury seems particularly damaging for den Dekker. Had he gone to AAA Vegas and hit at all, there might well have been an opening for him in New York by summer. Now, he’ll just be getting his own bearings in Vegas and will no longer be the first option when someone ele gets hurt. Generally, I’m not too worried about minor injuries to prospects in spring training – see Michael Fulmer or Zack Wheeler – for this year’s examples. It’s only when the injuries become chronic as they have for Reese Havens at the extreme or Darrell Ceciliani or Cesar Puello, that it starts to really impact a player’s projection. Nope, for den Dekker the damage is purely in terms of timing and most likely missing a chance at his first big league callup.
So the Mets final outfield spot will come down to Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. That Nieuwenhuis is in this battle at all can be blamed directly on his own injury problems – a knee bruise this spring. And don’t worry, the other one will be up soon – whenever Marlon Byrd gets injured or becomes ineffective or the former causes the latter.