NEW YORK -- Known in large part for his string of successes in Queens in recent years, outfielder Willie Harris has signed a Minor League contract with the Mets, the team announced on Monday. Harris agreed to terms with the club last Friday.
Harris, 32, hit .183 with a .291 on-base percentage in 132 games for the Nationals last season. But he also hit 10 home runs and provided capable defensive help at all three outfield positions. For the Mets, his defense was the most intriguing selling point; three times over the past four seasons, Harris preserved wins over the Mets with spectacular outfield catches.
Harris has spent the past four years in the National League East with the Nationals and Braves, amassing more than 300 at-bats in three of those four seasons.
Though his deal with the Mets is non-guaranteed, a source said Harris is all but a lock to make the team in an arrangement that should net him between 250 and 400 plate appearances, which should help keep veteran starters Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay and Angel Pagan fresh. Harris' defensive numbers may have declined since his standout season in 2008, but he is not far removed from being one of the game's better defensive outfielders.
With him in the mix, New York's roster of position players now appears to be set. In addition to Beltran, Bay, Pagan and Harris, outfielder Nick Evans is a favorite to make the team as a right-handed pinch-hitter.
Early last week, the Mets signed lefty reliever Taylor Tankersley to a Minor League contract, leaving just one remaining hole on their roster: starting pitcher. One of their top targets, Jeff Francis, signed with the Royals on Friday morning, making a Chris Young signing even more likely. If the Mets do not sign Young, Dave Bush and Freddy Garcia are two potential alternatives.