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Mets can survive in 2020 with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo in center

DENVER, CO - JUNE 18: Michael Conforto #30 and Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets replace their hats after celebrating in center field after a 12-2 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 18, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JUNE 18: Michael Conforto #30 and Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets replace their hats after celebrating in center field after a 12-2 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 18, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
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Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo have each played center field often for the New York Mets in their big league career. In 2020, the team can continue to get by pairing them together at the position.

In 2019, the New York Mets developed a knack for repositioning their outfield depth by starting corner outfielders in center field and using their infielders to fill in the gaps. Although Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis, and even Dominic Smith when he was healthy, made up for their lack of outfield defense by excelling at the plate, they were still playing out of position as platoon outfielders.

In short, prolonged injuries to Yoenis Céspedes and Brandon Nimmo, combined with an excess of infielders and a critical lack of true outfield depth, made the Mets outfield situation somewhat muddled. Heck, at one point in the season they were even considering starting shortstop, Amed Rosario in center field!

Still, I think the Mets can survive 2020 with Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo as their alternating center fielders – with Nimmo making more starts in center. However, the team’s reliance on infielders in their outfield, which yielded poor defensive results in 2019, will continue to haunt them into 2020, if nothing is done.

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Realistically, however, I don’t foresee the front office adding outfielders this offseason since they need to reserve the option of utilizing Davis and/or McNeil as corner outfielders in order to include them in the starting lineup and capitalize on their productive bats.

This is the dilemma the team finds itself in due to their abundance of infielders, with Jed Lowrie and Robinson Cano seemingly pushing younger players like McNeil and Davis from starting at second and third base, respectively.

They are inhibited from adding a defensive center fielder to their roster (which they no doubt need) lest they risk relegating J.D. Davis or Jeff McNeil to the bench, which cannot happen – especially in the case of McNeil.

Regardless, with Céspedes back in the lineup next season to play out the final year of his contract, he should be penciled in as the starting left fielder, while Nimmo and Conforto alternate between center and right field starts.

Both players are homegrown from the Mets farm system and have shown glimpses of how good they can be – both in the field and at the plate. Together they offer a dynamic mixture of power, speed, and steady glove work in the outfield.

Going forward, however, it would behoove the Mets to shop for outfield depth this offseason as a way of getting ahead of their need before 2021, when they inevitably decide not to re-sign Céspedes or Lagares.

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They can no longer sacrifice defense for offense. We’ve seen far too many misplays this season to allow the issue to carry into 2020 – the year the Mets could realistically win it all.

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