MIAMI — Tyler Naquin had heard trade buzz, but nothing connected him with the Mets.
That all changed Thursday night when he received a call in Cincinnati telling him the Mets had taken him on. Commercially, the Mets also received minor league lefty reliever Phillip Diehl and sent minor leagues Hector Rodriguez and Jose Acuna to the Reds.
“It definitely came out of the blue,” Naquin said ahead of the Mets’ 6-4 win over the Marlins. “I’ve heard some things about other teams, but every year you hear something around the trade deadline. I am sure that things will get hot for everyone here in the next few days.”
The transfer of 31-year-old Naquin came at the expense of Travis Jankowski. Jankowski was assigned the task of clearing the squad spot for Naquin, a left-handed outfielder.
Naquin, who didn’t play in the Mets’ win, came in with a .246/.305/.444 slash line with seven homers and 33 RBIs, bringing more to the equation than Jankowski, who has had at-bats in his last 29. Naquin began his career with Cleveland, which included a 2016 World Series appearance.
“He brings energy,” said Carlos Carrasco, who spent four seasons as Naquin’s teammate in Cleveland. “Any time he’s in the outfield, he just goes out there and plays and works hard. I really like the guy. I first saw him when I [was] in Cleveland. He was one of the best candidates they had and they raised him and he played really well.”
Manager Buck Showalter said he viewed Naquin as a player who could help the Mets in any role he was given.
“He’s a guy who can play all three outfield positions, left-handed hitter, good defender and thrower, and he can manage the bases,” Showalter said. “He can bring some things that all clubs need, just another piece for us to maneuver and come up with a strong line-up.”
Naquin’s presence will allow Jeff McNeil to play more at second base and less play at left field. With McNeil in second place, the Mets can play third-place Luis Guillorme more often, where Eduardo Escobar has struggled offensively, especially against righties.
“I think because of the versatility of Jeff and the versatility of Louie and Escobar, we can move the parts around and keep everyone physically intact and try to do our best every night,” Showalter said. “Not just pure matchups, but if someone takes a tag, we won’t have a drop in performance. Just another opportunity to attack for the rest of the season.”
Naquin’s arrival came a week after the Mets acquired Daniel Vogelbach, another left-hander, from the Pirates. The Mets will go to close on Tuesday with a right-hander and bullpen help on the radar.
Naquin welcomes the opportunity to play for a postseason contender after escaping a final spot with the Reds.
“They have a good team here, just through the whole lineup,” Naquin said, noting that he faced Max Scherzer during the Mets’ trip to Cincinnati earlier this month. “You’re going to get the brunt of it for sure, so it’s exciting. … It’s a good ball club, good staff and I hear it’s a good environment.”