While the Mets outfield is loaded with talent, the key remains in placing their players in positions where they are most likely to succeed.
The Mets have a full plate to deal with this off-season. But among the weighty decisions coming their way, the conundrum in the outfield can no longer be swept aside as though it doesn’t exist.
If you had to pick the Mets starting outfield for next year, who would it be, where would they play, and more significantly, what would you do with the excess?
The Mets And George Springer
Among the six players, you will not find a true major league centerfielder. A quick perusal of the Class of 2021 Free-Agent centerfielders finds only George Springer worthy of any team’s consideration.
It will take a mountain to move Springer from the Astros, where he has enjoyed ongoing success with what appears to be a perennial playoffs team.
Springer made (before pro-rated salaries were induced) $21 million in 2020, and the price will be exorbitant for his services, despite Steve Cohen’s deep pockets.
Besides, it figures if the Mets are going to invest in a talented but expensive free agent or two, the holes are bigger to fill in the catcher’s position and the starting rotation.
A Mix And Mis-Match In The Outfield Again?
While the trade season opens after the World Series ends, teams, including the Mets, are not likely to engage until after the arbitration and free-agent process are in full swing, and they have a better picture of trends in the marketplace.
Michael Conforto played centerfield for two-thirds of the Mets sixty games this year. His natural position is right field, but moving him there means Brandon Nimmo becomes the Mets everyday centerfielder.
As reported by Yardbarker, Brandon Nimmo of the New York Mets, the problem is rated the worst defensive center fielder in all of MLB by Baseball Savant/Statcast.
The outlet has Nimmo, 27, at minus-three in outs above average, tied with Mike Yastrzemski of the San Francisco Giants at the position. Nimmo holds an 82% success rate and one error on the year, per the league’s official website.
As desperate as the Mets were to find a center fielder last season, at one point, the team even resorted to a failed attempt to resurrect Juan Lagares, the Mets last Gold Glove winner way back in 2014.
Plus, regardless of Jake Marisnick‘s status as an above-average centerfielder, the Mets need more run production from this position than Marisnick can supply.
Is Dominic Smith The Mets Everyday Left Fielder
Finding an everyday Mets left fielder is an easier proposition because the talent is already there. The problem shifts, however, to a game of eeny-meeny-miny-moe for the Mets.
J.D. Davis had an off-year for the Mets offensively compared to the numbers he put up in 2019. Mentioned often as fodder in trade talks, the Mets need to decide who the real Davis is before letting him go.
As with many players this year, though, what weight should the Mets give to anyone’s 2020 season?
Seemingly, the days of the platoon are gone. The tandem of Dominic Smith from the left side and Davis from the right may be appealing at first.
But with the likelihood of the DH not being extended in the National League, how can the Mets ignore Smith’s run production as a full-time everyday player getting 600+ at-bats?
Mets Outfield Drearily Looking The Same
If the 2021 season opened today, the Mets outfield would consist of Smith in left, Nimmo in center, and Conforto in right.
Offensively, not too bad at all. But as we’ve already documented in a story earlier this week, the Mets are already seriously challenged as a team defensively.
Maintaining the status quo will give you the status quo, even when all things point forward with new ownership and a revitalized effort to improve the team.
How do you fix it? Dammed if I know. The Mets can take another try at Billy Hamilton, who appeared in seventeen games for the Mets in a brief try-out if the Atlanta Braves buy him out for $1 million.
Or, they can go rogue, taking a stab at free agent 31-year-old Jackie Bradley Jr. in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle, to find the same player who shined for the Red Sox on offense and defense in 2016-2017.
Mets Best Bet: Give It Up And Let It Ride
As stated in the introduction, the Mets have a full plate to deal with this offseason. Their attention is devoted to active player personnel and stepping fully into the 21st Century baseball world of analytics, a prized forte of Cohen from his hedge fund days.
There’s also no help coming in center field from the Free Agent Class of 2022. So maybe it’s time to batten down the hatches, concentrating fully on drilling the hell out of the Nimmo, Conforto, and Smith with hopes that each can meet the needs of the team defensively.
In the meantime, there’s always the chance that Sandy Alderson has identified a player he intends to seek in a trade when the timing is right.