WASHINGTON -- Confident in Juan Lagares as their everyday center fielder and needing to clear roster space for Jenrry Mejia, the Mets optioned outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis to Triple-A Las Vegas following Friday's doubleheader against the Nationals. That move allows Mejia to remain on the active roster, in what should become a six-man rotation.
Nieuwenhuis, 25, had seen a rapid decrease in playing time over the past two weeks due in large part to the success of Lagares and Eric Young Jr. Before the Mets optioned Nieuwenhuis, Collins said in between games Friday that Lagares will be the team's everyday center fielder.
Nieuwenhuis was in an 0-for-15 slump dating back to July 13, dragging his average down to .189. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in the first game of the doubleheader.
Optioning a position player means that the Mets will proceed for the time being with a four-man bench, which could grow even shorter if Justin Turner's minor injuries linger. The team is currently using a standard seven-man bullpen.
Mejia joined the team earlier Friday as a temporary 26th man for the doubleheader. Had the Mets not added him to the roster after the game, they would have needed to option him to Las Vegas.