7) Kevin Kiermaier
The Mets haven’t had a gold glove caliber centerfielder since Juan Lagares and while Brandon Nimmo made strides last year, the club is desperate for a defensive presence in centerfield. Enter: Kevin Kiermaier.
The Tampa Bay rays have never shied away from making big trades or shedding money and with Kiermaier set to make $12M in 2022 and $13M in 2023, barring they pick up his option, the Mets would be wise to at least check in on the availability of the 32-year old centerfielder.
Kiermaier finished 4th in all of baseball with 12 Outs Above Average in 2021, which was behind two gold glove winners. It’s even more impressive when you consider that Kiermaier is older than the three players who finished above him. This highlights the fact that the Mets shouldn’t be scared off by him being 32, as he’s proven that he’s got plenty left in the tank defensively.
With the inevitable departure of Michael Conforto and Kevin Pillar opting to be a free agent, the Mets will have to make some improvements to the outfield group not only offensively, but defensively as well. Brandon Nimmo has proven to be consistent, but with Dom Smith looking like the option in left field currently, it would behoove the Mets to make a move to improve their defense, especially up the middle.
The one caveat to a move for Kiermaier would be the lack of offense that would be apparent in the lineup. Kiermaier’s OPS eclipsed .700 (.716) this past season for just the first time since 2017. And while Kiermaier’s sprint speed in the outfield is in the upper echelon of the league, there’s much to be desired on the basepaths.
Considering all of this, if the Mets do well to provide offense in free agency in other areas, taking a shot at tremendously improving the defense up the middle of the field could pay dividends next season.