After arriving in camp Monday, Chris Young made it clear to reporters that his preference is to play center field. Having played the majority of his career in center, Young’s desire to wind up there is understandable. However, it isn’t something the Mets promised him before he signed.
The 30 year old, who agreed to a one-year deal worth $7.25 million this offseason, signed with the Mets with the understanding that he would be given a large chunk of playing time. Center field, though, was not a position he was promised – something Sandy Alderson reiterated during his interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN last week.
Curtis Granderson will be one of the starters in the outfield (presumably in right). Aside from Granderson, there are three players who are fighting for two spots: Chris Young, Juan Lagares, and Eric Young, Jr.
Where Chris Young slides in defensively will depend on whether or not Juan Lagares is a starter.
If Lagares is a starter – and Sandy Alderson noted last week that he would be starting in center field during the Mets’ spring opener in 11 days – Chris Young will likely end up in left field with Eric Young, Jr. on the bench.
If Terry Collins gets his way and is allowed to use Eric Young, Jr. as his leadoff hitter, Chris Young will very likely wind up in center field flanked by Eric Young, Jr. to his right and Curtis Granderson to his left.
Eric Young, Jr. playing every day, though, is not the ideal scenario.
In the ideal scenario, Juan Lagares will display improved plate discipline this spring, in turn showing that the offensive numbers he put up in winter ball are a sign of things to come in the big leagues. If that’s the case, he’ll almost certainly wind up in center field as the starter.
Chris Young has been a plus defender over the course of his career, but he struggled a bit last year while acclimating to both left field and right field (with center field mixed in as well). If Lagares starts in center, Chris Young will again have to slide to a corner outfield spot.
With a year of experience in the corners under his belt, he should be able to improve upon what was a semi-rough 2013 defensively, potentially giving the Mets one of the best defensive outfields in all of baseball.