The New York Mets should have their eye on one of the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball this upcoming winter, Jackie Bradley Jr.
One of the major questions that will be facing the New York Mets this offseason is who will be playing center field come next spring? Do the Mets continue to play Brandon Nimmo in center field where he has been playing out of position and ranks as the second-worst defensive center fielder in baseball? Or do they attempt to re-sign Jake Marisnick despite the 29-year old outfielder only totaling 34 at-bats this season due to a hamstring injury?
Luckily if the Mets are serious about finding a full-time center fielder (which they should be) there is an All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner hitting the open market this winter that goes by the name of Jackie Bradley Jr. There is no reason why the Mets should not be interested in the former Boston Red Sox outfielder, as the 30-year old former ALCS MVP could help the Mets fill a hole they have been looking to fill in their outfield for multiple seasons.
Bradley who has been widely regarded as one of the best defensive center fielders in Red Sox history would easily upgrade the Mets defensively while allowing Brandon Nimmo to return to a corner outfield position, where his defense profiles better, along with Michael Conforto at the other corner spot. The Mets defense as a whole needs to be improved this offseason and JBJ would be one of the best places to start.
Since entering the league in 2013, Bradley has only committed 17 errors in 781 career games played in center field. Looking a little deeper defensively, Bradley also ranks third among all active leaders in center field assists with 54. If those numbers don’t impress you enough, when Bradley is ranked up against all of the center fielders in the history of baseball, JBJ holds the 31st best career fielding percentage at .991.
While Bradley isn’t widely regarded for his offensive production as he has been a notoriously streaky hitter throughout his career, he loves to feast on National League East pitching.
In his 196 career plate appearances against the Mets four division rivals, Bradley carries a .312 career batting average with a strong .908 OPS. When you look at Bradley’s offensive season in 2020, he put together a career-best .283 batting average this season to go along with a career-best .364 OBP, while slugging seven home runs to go along with 22 RBI’s for the last-place Red Sox.
Bradley could slot nicely at the bottom of the Mets 2021 batting lineup as they have plenty of offensive firepower to carry the load. This is purely a move to make the Mets better defensively, which is an area they have largely struggled the past few seasons.
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Pitching as well as defense should be taken into account as the priority for the Mets to build a contender next spring, and adding Bradley should be at the top of all Mets fans wish lists this winter to fill the everlasting void in center field.