Trade for a Gold-Glove Centerfielder
Let the blockbuster transactions continue! If catcher has been the biggest defensive liability over past seasons, center field has been second. While signing a player to fill this need is theoretically an option, I want to be as realistic as possible. The odds of the team opening up their checkbooks for two difference-making talents seems very un-Mets-like. The next logical option is the trade market.
The franchise has recently experienced one of two issues. They have either committed playing time to defensive specialists like Juan Lagares, Austin Jackson, and most recently, Billy Hamilton. While these players have made a noticeable fielding difference, they are all also incredibly one-sided players. The value they bring with their gloves is canceled out by their ineptitude with a bat.
Otherwise, the team has a recent history of starting good offensive players in center who are natural corner outfielders. This has led to Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, and most recently Brandon Nimmo playing out of position.
While Nimmo has performed most admirably in this tough spot, his average defensive WAR per season are as follows: 2018: -6.6. 2019: -1.5. 2020: -3.4. For all the good things Nimmo brings to the ball club, the advanced stats reveal him to be a corner outfielder playing out of position. This is a bigger defensive problem than the Mets and their fans seem to recognize.
However, there is a solution. The recent opt-out by Cespedes and the addition on a universal DH means that there more space for Nimmo at the corner spots. An intriguing trade chip has also emerged this season. The breakout play of rookie Andres Gimenez has opened the possibility to dangling shortstop Amed Rosario as a trade asset this winter. Gimenez has proven to have game-changing speed, a capable bat, and a more consistent glove in the middle infield. He profiles as the shortstop of the future.
Rosario on the other hand is still only 24-years old and is a capable option at the position. One would imagine that any rebuilding or retooling team would be interested in his services.
Some interesting potential options that could be available could include: JaCoby Jones of the Tigers or Mike Yastrzemski of the Giants, both of whom were recently listed as possible trade candidates by CBS. Trade details remain to be seen, and there are a plethora of other options available. However, either of these two players would be fascinating additions.