The New York Mets are in the market for a center fielder. What kind of trades could they consider to land a good one?
A day following the epic Game 7 finale of the 2019 Fall Classic, the New York Mets officially declined OF Juan Lagares’ $9.5 million club option for the 2020 season along with their club options for 2B Joe Panik and LHP Donnie Hart. While these moves freed up a sizeable amount of funds for management to reinvest in new talent this offseason, it also opened up a fourth outfielder spot amid their crowded outfield options.
Since his debut with the team in 2013, Lagares slashed .254/.297/.361 over seven seasons in Flushing. Interestingly, his best numbers emerged during 2014 (his Gold Glove season) when he batted .281 while accumulating 31 extra-base hits and driving in 41 RBIs in 116 games.
Unfortunately for Juan, his last season with over 100 games played prior to the 2019 season was back in 2015. Had injuries not caused him to miss so much playing time during the 2016-2018 seasons, he might have developed into the player the Mets had hoped he would become when they signed him to a $23 million, four-year contract extension in 2015 – the year after winning a Gold Glove for his stellar defensive play in centerfield.
However, despite this harsh reality, his release opens up new opportunities for the Mets novice GM to explore. It also opens up a roster spot while freeing up enough payroll for Brodie Van Wagenen to put toward righting the wrongs of his flawed 2019 offseason performance and get this ‘win-now’ mode team back on track and headed toward a postseason berth.
As the Hot Stove season is slowly heating up and moving into full swing, here are five quality centerfield options for Van Wagenen and his staff to explore from most likely to least likely, as their roster desperately needs someone who knows how to play the position and who can complement their impressive glovework with a steady bat at the plate.