PORT ST. LUCIE — The planets are aligning as such that Juan Lagares could begin the season with another team.
According to industry sources, the Mets have received recent phone calls about the former Gold Glove winner and haven’t ruled out the idea of trading him. The trade buzz comes as Brandon Nimmo has emerged in camp as the potential fourth outfielder once Michael Conforto returns. Conforto, who is rehabbing from September shoulder surgery, told The Post on Tuesday that he expects to play in a Grapefruit League game next week, which could possibly put him on track to return before May 1, as the team has outlined.
Lagares began camp as the favorite to play on a regular basis in center field until Conforto returns, but his struggles at the plate, after a winter spent retooling his swing, haven’t helped his case. Entering Tuesday’s play, Lagares was 4-for-20 (.200) in seven exhibition games.
A source indicated at least one American League club has maintained interest in Lagares, who is making $6.5 million this season. He is scheduled to receive $9 million in 2019, the final year of his contract.
The caveat in trading Lagares, who turns 29 this week, is such a move could leave the Mets thin on outfield depth. As it stands, Matt den Dekker and perhaps Phillip Evans are behind Nimmo on the depth chart.
Nimmo smashed his third home run of the spring on Tuesday, with a leadoff blast against the Astros’ Gerrit Cole, after entering play 11-for-32 (.344) in the Grapefruit League season.
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