- Adam Rubin, ESPNNewYork.com
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Harris, 32, intends to sign a one-year, minor league contract with an invitation to Mets spring training, a baseball source told ESPNNewYork.com. If he makes the team, he would serve as a fourth outfielder.
Among his memorable ninth-inning grabs against the Mets in Queens:
April 10, 2010: With the bases loaded, two out and the Mets trailing by a run, Rod Barajas sends a line drive to left field. Harris makes a sprawling, game-ending catch to preserve the Washington Nationals' 4-3 win at Citi Field.
Harris was even at it last Grapefruit League season against the Mets, taking a spring-training homer away from Henry Blanco.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told ESPNNewYork.com Monday that three areas of need remained for the team this offseason: a starting pitcher, left-handed reliever and backup outfielder. Since then, left-handed reliever Taylor Tankersley has been signed to a minor league contract, and now Harris is on board to provide outfield depth.
With the team committed to placing rookie Lucas Duda at Triple-A Buffalo to ensure playing time if he is not going to be a starter at the major league level, and with prospect Fernando Martinez's inability to stay healthy, ex-Twin Jason Pridie might have been the top option as a fourth outfielder before Harris came on board. And the organization was not enthused by that prospect.
Harris also has started 167 career games at second base, and could be used on a limited basis there as well. The Mets may be relying on an unproven player at the position -- Daniel Murphy, Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus or Justin Turner -- if Luis Castillo is released during spring training, which is a distinct possibility.
Harris hit only .183 last season with the Nationals, but he did produce 10 homers in 224 at-bats. He also walked 33 times, making his on-base percentage .291.
Harris hit only .199 on balls put in play in 2010, which signals bad luck. The major league average was .297 on balls put in play.
Harris cheerfully has played the role of villain against the Mets.
The day after Harris' game-saving catch against Barajas last April, Francisco Rodriguez hit him with a cut fastball on the left forearm in the ninth inning, leading both teams to storm the field. Rodriguez later indicated he thought Harris was cursing at him, but Harris insisted any expletive merely was a reaction to the discomfort of getting hit.
"It's really nothing with us -- nothing with me or with those guys," Harris explained earlier that series about the heartache he has caused the Mets with his glove. "When you have 5,000, 10,000 people out there calling you all kinds of names and saying all types of things which aren't nice, you've got to find some way to make them hush. In my mind, I'm saying: 'You better not hit that ball to me.' That's what I'm thinking. That's what gets me going. That's my own little thing that gets me going when I'm on defense."
The Mets will sign Willie Harris to a minor league contract, according to a source.