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NY Mets: Three most exciting spring training position battles

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) David Peterson #77 of the New York Mets in action against the New York Yankees during the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on August 28, 2020 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Yankees 4-3.
All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. The day honoring Jackie Robinson, traditionally held on April 15, was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) David Peterson #77 of the New York Mets in action against the New York Yankees during the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on August 28, 2020 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Yankees 4-3. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. The day honoring Jackie Robinson, traditionally held on April 15, was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 10: Albert Almora Jr. #5 of the Chicago Cubs bats during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 10, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Chicago 10-1. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 10: Albert Almora Jr. #5 of the Chicago Cubs bats during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 10, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Chicago 10-1. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Battle for: Center Field

Seemingly since Curtis Granderson last played for the Mets, the team has needed a natural center fielder. Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo have been solid fillers, though are better suited at the corner outfield positions.

At the same time, it appears that Brandon Nimmo will be the team’s center fielder for the 2021 season. The team could not secure George Springer, who went up north to the Toronto Blue Jays. And it does not sound as if Jackie Bradley Jr. will be a late addition to the team.

That being said, Mets fans, be ready to see Nimmo in center field once again in 2021. This is no knock on him, as he has been a passable center fielder, though, given his -14 defensive runs saved in 147 games at the position, there are better solutions. That is where Albert Almora Jr. and Kevin Pillar come in.

The 26-year-old Almora is a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Mets after never panning out with the Chicago Cubs. He owns a .271 career batting average but is coming off of his worst year at the plate. However, in 427 career games in center field, he has six defensive runs saved.

Similarly, Pillar is, or well was a defensive-first center fielder. The 32-year-old is years out of his defensive prime, having not had a positive defensive run saved mark since 2017. At the same time, his bat is proven, with a career .262 average, including .288 in 2020.

Entering training camp, the safe bet to be late-game Juan Lagares type defensive center fielder is Pillar given his experience. But do not count out Almora if he has a strong spring training at the plate.

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