New York Mets should consider trading for Kevin Kiermaier
The New York Mets were one of the main teams pursuing star outfielder George Springer this offseason. Unfortunately for the Mets, they were outbid for him by the upstart Toronto Blue Jays, who signed Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal. As it turned out, the Mets were unwilling to go higher for their main target in free agency. Despite Springer being from Connecticut, he chose the higher offer even if it took him north of the border.
With Springer off the board, the Mets have to readjust their center field plans and pursue their contingency plan. The good news for the Mets is that there are numerous options available to them, either via trade or free agency.
One of these options is to trade for Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. He has won multiple Gold Gloves as a member of the Rays and is known as one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball. When it comes to OAA and sprint speed, Kiermaier is the best center fielder in these metrics, making his fit in the spacious Citi Field great.
In regards to the Rays’ willingness to trade him away, that remains to be seen, but a small-market team like them always looks for ways to keep their payroll low. Even after making it to the World Series in 2020, the Rays are still in salary-shedding mode, willing to part with talent to reduce their payroll. The trade of Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres is evidence of this.
Would the Mets be willing to take on Kiermaier’s contract?
Kiermaier, who is set to earn $23.5 million over the next two seasons, may be a slight overpay, but his defensive instincts complement Brandon Nimmo’s on-base capabilities well.
Kiermaier’s offense is what may give the Mets pause. Over his first four seasons, Kiermaier was passable as an offensive center fielder. Over the past three seasons though, he has hit a dreadful .222/.286/.383. As a result, Kiermaier could only be counted on as an all-glove, no-hit outfielder.
Despite his offensive limitations though, Kiermaier’s strength is Nimmo’s weakness. Kiermaier can play center field defensively. Meanwhile, Nimmo, who hit .280/.404/.484 in 2020, can provide a bat that is only continuing to improve.
What if the National League adopts the designated hitter?
Kiermaier’s fit on the Mets would depend on whether the National League adopts the designated hitter. If they do, Kiermaier’s fit becomes obvious. He becomes the primary center fielder while Nimmo goes to left field and Dominic Smith serves as the primary designated hitter. If there is no designated hitter in 2021, then Kiermaier and Nimmo would become a solid center field platoon.
Although Mets fans are probably disappointed that the team failed to land Springer, their situation in center field isn’t dire. Nimmo is below-average defensively, but his bat showed significant promise. It is possible that the Mets choose to run with Nimmo in center and turn their attention to pitching.
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However, a Kevin Kiermaier trade will likely be a salary dump, and as long as the team is willing to take on most, if not, all of his contract, then they should consider trading for him.