Mets Rumors: Not much interest in Shogo Akiyama, more in Matt Szczur
By Tim Boyle
Recent New York Mets rumors give some insight into where the team may go to find a center fielder for the 2020 season.
New York Mets rumors are beginning to take form with general managers meeting out west and whispers hitting the ears of beat writers. From the latest Mets rumors to reach the public, the team is showing serious signs of their desire to add a center fielder.
It’s the “who” which remains a little more mysterious. According to Mike Puma of the NY Post, they want someone who can field the position better than Brandon Nimmo who hits right-handed. Shortstop Amed Rosario no longer looks like an option—understandably so. Rosario made great strides at the plate last season and improved on his defense over the course of 162. They would probably benefit greatest from leaving him where he is.
Unfortunately for the Mets, there aren’t many center fielders in free agency of note. One guy is Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama. Joel Sherman of the NY Post says it’s unlikely he is the man for the job. Akiyama isn’t high on the list of center fielders the team has considered.
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As with anyone who joins the MLB ranks from overseas, there’s some hesitation about what they can do in the States. Akiyama plenty of tools to make him a worthy candidate for the Mets center field job. His combination of power, speed, and ability to hit for a high average should all be taken into account.
Based on the Mets rumors from Sherman, however, it looks like the team would prefer to go elsewhere.
A lesser-known veteran with MLB experience yet familiar enough name to baseball fans who they are interested in is Matt Szczur. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the 30-year-old with 667 MLB plate appearances is someone to watch. Mets rumors from him have suggested this unusual direction for the Metropolitans.
Since his MLB debut in 2014, he was almost exclusively a bench player. Szczur spent all of last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks Double-A squad. He played well, but this was Double-A, after all. Most guys with MLB experience in their “prime years” would look like Ty Cobb down there.
Szczur isn’t the kind of player I would like to see the Mets bother targeting. He’s a career backup player who didn’t hit much at the major league level. Essentially, he’s the Juan Lagares replacement. In this role, perhaps he’s worth a look. As the starting center fielder, it’s a tough sell.
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If we do see the Mets make a significant upgrade in center field, it’s going to have to come via trade. November has become a slow month for MLB transactions. So, in the meantime, we’ll have to keep our speculation goggles on.