When Khalil Lee was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2016, he thought he'd become a cornerstone of the franchise that was getting younger each year, and he took another step closer to that goal when he was added to the Royals' 40-man roster last November.
But the Mets came knocking when the Royals and Boston Red Sox needed a third team as the Royals traded for Andrew Benintendi.
Now, Lee is in blue and orange, and it took him a little while to get over the shock of being traded to Queens.
“My reaction was, it was surprising. It caught me off guard," Lee told SNY. "I wasn’t expecting to get traded, so it kinda caught me by surprise, for sure.
"Once it hit me and settled in, I was excited. I was like … 'That could be a real good opportunity.’ I was for sure excited once it all hit me and I got past that confused stage, that 'catch me off-guard' stage. I definitely settled in and was like ‘Yeah, I’m a New York Met.’"
The trade is still so new to Lee that he's had to remind himself on several occasions that he's not a Royal anymore.
"Coming in, I remember driving into the COVID testing the first day, and I was driving in looking for Clover Park, and I was just looking around like ‘Oh, there’s only the Mets here.’ I was like ‘Okay, I’m a New York Met. Yeah. I forgot! I’m a New York Met," he said with a laugh.
“Just putting on the uniform, just seeing myself in the mirror with blue and orange on, I was like ‘Wow, I’m really a New York Met.' ... It’s kinda been hitting me every day," he added. "I just think that when I put that uniform on, put the pinstripes on -- I’ve never worn pinstripes, I look good in pinstripes, I think, after putting them on, putting on the jersey, looking around the clubhouse.
"Pete Alonso is in the clubhouse, [and he's a] good guy. It’s like ‘Oh, I’m in the locker room with Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor and [Jacob] deGrom. DeGrom’s locker is right there.’ Those things, you’re like ‘I’m a New York Met. It’s hit me now.’”
Considering that Lee could make his MLB arrival at some point in 2021, he better get used to being around the Mets' impact players quickly -- as he could very much become one.