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NY Mets: The case to sign Starling Marte this winter

Sep 15, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Starling Marte (2) celebrates after hitting a two run single against the Kansas City Royals in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 15, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Starling Marte (2) celebrates after hitting a two run single against the Kansas City Royals in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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Ten years into his major league career, you would think we have an idea of exactly what Starling Marte is capable of. The longtime Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder has moved around a little more post-2019. A member of three teams in two years included two trade deadline transactions, it’s time for us to explore whether or not he is a potential fit for the New York Mets in 2022.

Why the Mets should pursue Starling Marte

Let’s get started with what Marte can offer. Speed is a great weapon for Marte. He somehow managed to steal 20+ bases in the National League and American League this season all while hitting over .300 for both the Miami Marlins and Oakland Athletics.

With over 40 stolen bases in his age 32 season, there doesn’t appear to be any signs of him slowing down. Any team interested in signing him should proceed with caution, though. A player’s legs can just one day not moving nearly as quickly as they did only a year prior.

Marte makes the most sense for the Mets if Michael Conforto leaves. Whether they put him in center field and move Brandon Nimmo or simply put Marte in left field where he might be a better fit, (two-time Gold Glove winner at the position), there’s an obvious spot for Marte to play every day.

Plus, his ability to play center field gives the Mets a backup plan when Nimmo inevitably goes on the IL.

As a guy who has never finished a season hitting below .275 sans his 47-game rookie year in 2012, there’s a lot to really like about Marte. He also won’t have a qualifying offer attached to him, one of the factors rumored to dissuade the Mets from signing particular players. So why not target him?

The greatest fear with signing Starling Marte is fear itself

I mentioned it before. Legs go weak real quick in baseball. How many league leaders in stolen bases will suddenly struggle to swipe 10 the next year?

Marte has been a good base thief throughout his career. In parts of eight seasons with the Pirates, Marte crossed 30 five times. He could easily lead the 2022 Mets in stolen bases without even trying.

The big question I want to ask, aside from the fear of him suddenly becoming a singles hitter with far less speed, is whether or not he fits what the team will need to replace Conforto. Marte isn’t a power hitter these days. Smacking a dozen or more might be a reach moving forward.

There’s always a risk signing a player over 32 that plays a position where speed matters. Even if he’s not stealing bases as frequently, outfielders need their legs to move. Otherwise, they become a defensive liability real fast.

In looking to replace Conforto, the Mets will need to look at power. They can always re-sign Javier Baez to get this. Eventually, though, the team may start to run out of free agent dollars to spend.

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Marte should be on the Mets offseason shopping list. Although not at the top of it, he is a more than adequate player to add to the 2022 plan.

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