3 free agent center fielders the Mets can look at if improving the defense is paramount

If the Mets want a defensive boost in center field, these are three free agents they can target.
Sep 1, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) makes a
Sep 1, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) makes a / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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New York Mets rumors involving the team’s potential search for a center fielder caught many of us off-guard a few weeks ago. Jung Hoo Lee was one of the rumored options for the Mets, but he is now unavailable after signing a six-year deal with the San Francisco Giants.

The center field free agent market is actually a bit more robust this year following an offseason last winter where Brandon Nimmo was the star. However, Nimmo backtracked defensively this past season and if the Mets would like the best-fielding outfield they can get, a move to left field to fill that vacancy is one option.

If it’s defense in center field the Mets desire most, these three available options can help them. Cody Bellinger didn’t make the cut because the qualifying offer likely eliminates him from signing with the Mets. Plus, with zero rumors about the team looking into signing him, it’s safe to assume they won’t.

1) Kevin Kiermaier

Four Gold Gloves to his name including one last year with the Toronto Blue Jays, Kevin Kiermarier remains an intriguing center field option for any team looking for a guy who can hit well and play stellar defense. Kiermaier’s ten years in Tampa Bay created a reputation for him as a guy who can steal runs away whenever healthy.

The “whenever healthy” description is never good. Kiermaier has topped 120 games only four times in his career, but has accomplished this twice in the last three seasons.

A questionable bat at times, Kiermaier did hit .265/.322/.419 last season in Toronto. It was higher than the career .249/.309/.409 he now owns. It’s an acceptable total if you’re going to slot him in as your number nine hitter. It’s precisely where the Mets would probably place him.

Quick on the bases too, Kiermaier went to double-digit stolen bases last season for the first time since 2019. Successfully swiping 14 bases in 15 attempts, he has something to offer. Likely only a one or two-year deal at the most is all he’d expect to get. As far as defensively gifted center fielders go, he’s one who continues to live up to his reputation. Just make sure you outfit his uniform with bubble wrap.