The Mets romp through the offseason hit a snag when center fielder George Springer signed with Toronto. Plan B is now on the front burner.
The Mets have had their eyes squarely on free-agent George Springer for the entire offseason as the player who could be a significant upgrade in centerfield.
Alas, the Toronto Blue Jays, who until yesterday were only noisemakers, have reportedly signed the 31-year old to a six-year deal worth $150 million, pending a physical by Springer.
That contract will mark the largest in the Blue Jays’ history, a team that still has no idea where they’ll be playing the 2021 season, given the border restrictions in place between Canada and the United States.
The Mets Make The Right Play
Kudos to the Mets for not engaging themselves in a bidding war at those prices.
George Springer is a good player, but he does not (make that should not) command superstar money, especially since he’ll spend half of those six years playing beyond the age of 35. When will they ever learn?
For the Mets, this means it’s time to turn the page on their search for an upgrade in centerfield beyond Brandon Nimmo – the keyword being an upgrading in a key up-the-middle position.
Bradley is a bit weak with the bat, but he’s a whiz fielding his position, and given the wide outfield expanses at Citi Field, Bradley will catch everything that comes his way, and then much more. Pitchers like that.
Bradley made $11 million with the Red Sox last year, but unless another team overpays for his services, he can be had for less – perhaps for $16 on a two-year deal and the chance to be on a playoff-contending team with the Mets.
Mets: Why No Interest In Kevin Kiermaier
Beyond Bradley, though, I find it odd there are no reports of teams making a play for Tampa Bay’s human vacuum cleaner, Kevin Kiermaier.
Kiermaier has won three Gold Gloves, led the league in assists for an outfielder in 2020 (6), ranked first as a centerfielder in 2020, and currently ranks third among active players in Range Factor for centerfielders.
Altogether, this makes Kiermaier an upgrade over the Bradley upgrade. Salary wise, Kiermaier is also a fit as he is signed for the next two seasons at slightly more than $11 million and $12 million.
If obtained, the Mets would hold an option at $13 million, when Kiermaier will be 33.
If the Mets are interested, it’ll take some keen negotiating skills to pry Kiermaier from Tampa Bay, where he is generally characterized as their team’s face.
Tampa Bay’s track record this offseason has seen the departure of starting pitchers Charlie Morton and Blake Snell due to cost-cutting measures brought on by the uncertainty (COVID) of the 2021 season.
Therefore, why shouldn’t they erase the board and start over as they have successfully done numerous times before?
Why Not Go With What Ya Got?
The other option on the board for the Mets is to stand still. Brandon Nimmo will not kill the team. Batting leadoff, he automatically adds a charge into the start of any game.
Plus, the entourage he commands among Mets fans is off the charts. Always smiling, Nimmo, together with Frankie Lindor, will almost be too much to take as a duo.
Still, if you are not convinced, here’s a list of the remaining free-agent centerfielders for this year, put together by Spotrac.
For the Mets, the same situation basically exists as they look for an upgrade over J.D. Davis at third base.
Nolan Arenado creates a din of noise, but are the Rockies seriously engaged in overtures from teams like the Mets pursuing a trade?
Plus, even if the Mets are willing, is it a wise move for them to commit $200 million through the 2026 season, a deal that reminds so much of the commitment the Yankees made for the “pay-it-forward” Giancarlo Stanton type contract?
Mets Bait In The Water For A Starter…But
Having said that, the Mets still need a boost to their starting rotation, which looks good – but is it good enough to take them to the promised land – a World Championship?
Los Angeles will disappear into the Pacific Ocean sooner than expected if the Mets do not fortify their rotation with a proven major league starting pitcher.
Disappointing to some Mets fans, I’m sure to make the playoffs and make noise while there is a more practical goal for Steve Cohen and the company’s first-year reign.
If you buy into that overall strategy, as Cohen himself did when he laid out a three-year plan for the Mets to reach Nirvana, then much of this is inconsequential to the 2021 season.
The Mets can go with Davis and Nimmo for most or all of the 2021 season, and the sun will not burn out its light.
Mets 2021 Is A Beginning – Stay Tuned And Have Patience
Again, I’d ring the doorbell on both Bradley and Kiermaier, but if both overtures fall flat – hell – let’s play ball to see where the chips fall for the Mets 2021 season.
The Mets 2021 roster, as it stands today, is more than capable of competing in what portends to be one of the strongest divisions in baseball – the National League East.
Rosters are one thing, of course, and games played are another.
Adding Bradley Jr. or Kevin Kiermaier can help the cause, but I’m just not convinced this team needs all that much more help – and certainly not the kind brought about by Springer’s outrageous deal with the Blue Jays.