The New York Mets need to figure out a clear plan for what their center field plans will be for the 2021 season.
Whatever type of baseball we get in 2020 feels like a blessing at this point. The New York Mets will play the season with a pretty deep roster with one of their shallowest positions right up the middle in center field.
It has been years since the Mets have had a reliable center fielder. Since arguably the greatest center fielder in franchise history, Carlos Beltran, left them it has been a struggle to find stability. Juan Lagares never met his expectations. Other options the club has gone with have either fizzled out or fit better in a corner outfield spot.
Filling this need for a true and talented center fielder isn’t easy for a variety of reasons. Many teams struggle with this same issue. We’re in a time when the best center fielders stay put. By the time they do reach free agency, it’s often at the stage of their career when left field or right field is more fitting for them.
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There are no answers coming from the minor leagues. In fact, there really aren’t too many high-level outfield prospects to speak of at all on the farm. Jarred Kelenic would look really good right now on their list of the top prospects.
The Mets are expected to utilize Brandon Nimmo as their primary center fielder in 2020 with Jake Marisnick serving as his backup. Nimmo hasn’t been awful as a center fielder, but it doesn’t take long to see he fits better in as a corner outfielder.
A similar sentiment can be said about Michael Conforto. He has also gotten his share of starts in center field only to later fall back over to right field where he’s actually pretty good.
Amazingly, the next class of free agents actually includes three guys who could play center field. Mookie Betts, George Springer, and Marcell Ozuna are all set to hit the open market. We can also throw in Joc Pederson’s name as a consideration.
While these men have also spent time in the corner spots, they do have center field experience. Betts is the obvious runaway in terms of defensive skill and probably the best hitter. His price tag would put the Mets in an uncomfortable position we’ve all wanted to see them in for years.
Free agency isn’t the only place to add a center field. The Mets have players they could deal away to snag one of the many potentially available men at the position. It would make sense to trade shortstop prospect Andres Gimenez because he’s already blocked by Amed Rosario and may have been passed by fellow minor leaguer, Ronny Mauricio.
We could even see the team re-explore a familiar storyline from the winter by making Nimmo available in a deal. The debate we experienced during the colder offseason months was about whether or not it made sense to trade Nimmo for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte.
Marte was eventually traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a deal the Mets probably could have matched.
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The New York Brodie Van Wagenens have options for 2021 in center field with the worst coming from within their own organization. It’s not a position to take lightly. With multiple candidates in free agency and 29 clubs to strike a trade with, there’s no shortage of opportunities to seek out the next great Mets center fielder.