Ready for the spring? Let’s dive into another week of New York Mets news you may have missed!
Leading up to the pitchers and catchers report date on Feb 17, the front office worked overtime to cap off one of the franchise’s most active offseasons in recent memory with a slew of signings to shore up the lower rungs of their depth charts.
Last week, they left no stone unturned when fortifying the team’s bench with the signings of defensive star Albert Almora Jr. and super utility player Jonathon Villar; in addition to rumors they inquired about a star third baseman.
Evidently this work pace did not slow down over the weekend, as the Mets signed yet another back-up center fielder this week. As a result, the roster has never been filled with more star talent or lined with veteran reserves to step up to the plate when needed.
An abundance of Mets center fielders
On the surface, this offseason seems to have concluded with the signing of CF Kevin Pillar who is a much better option than OF Jackie Bradley Jr. in terms of his price tag and versatility. That much I think most fans could agree on before getting into whether the team even needed another back-up centerfielder.
On Feb 15, the Mets organization inked Pillar to a one-year, $5 million deal with an option for an additional year worth the same base. The California native is a great defensive centerfielder and a nightmare for left-handed pitching, slashing .342/.390/.579 against southpaws in 82 plate appearances last season.
In 46 games split between starts in CF and RF, he also recorded 98 putouts in 104 chances, which is just a small glimpse of his defensive prowess. His strength in the outfield also negates Bradley’s only attribute the Mets could have used his services for.
Plus, he’s already played with some of his new teammates during his journeyman career.
But adding another outfielder could mean a trade is in the works – with an outfielder as the centerpiece.
Heading into the season, the Mets projected starting outfield includes: Brandon Nimmo in center, Michael Conforto in right and Dominic Smith in left. While Almora Jr. is a strong defender, Pillar is the more experienced player and more versatile with his bat and glove.
Interestingly, the front office has already put out there that they are ‘not done’ yet with exploring trades and/or free agent shopping.
Surely Pillar is not who GM Zack Scott meant when he said this – and woe to us all if he was.
However, if they are looking for that last ‘big’ move to upgrade third base or supplement their bullpen, then Nimmo seems to be the most value the Mets could offer in a blockbuster-type deal.
Although this move would potentially even-out their lefty-dominated outfield with Almora Jr. and Pillar (who are the only right-hand hitting outfielders) filling Nimmo’s absence, it would leave them without a consistent lead-off hitter who is known for drawing a ton of walks.
With Training Camps having opened this week, the Mets do not appear to be slowing down. And regardless if another ‘big’ move is necessary, I’d be willing to predict that any potential trade package currently being considered would leave one of these outfielders on the chopping block.