The New York Mets have their outfield practically ready after the signing of Harrison Bader in previous days. With Bader playing regularly in center field, according to statements by David Stearns himself in the press conference introducing this player to the team, the team's outfielders will have to rotate more this next season.
Because of this, the Mets will be strengthening their defense more this season by using their outfielders in positions of better performance in the defense, depending on the pitching matchup. With this decision by Bader and the figure of Brandon Nimmo on the team, the Mets must have a clear moving forward action plan.
The plan in the center field for the start of 2024
Harrison Bader is a tremendous defensive center fielder, but his offense is a worrying aspect. However, his splits against lefties show that during 2023, his hitting was good against these pitchers, with a line of .299/.361 /.575 /.936. The best way to play the position is to have Bader in center field against lefties and Nimmo in the left field, while playing Nimmo in center field against righties, with a left-field rotation between DJ Stewart, Tyrone Taylor, and even Jeff McNeil.
The plan in center field by the end of 2024
The signing of Harrison Bader for one year and his possible performance in 2024, if used strictly against lefties, could make him a trade target heading into the trade deadline. The probability that Bader will be traded is high, so in that scenario, the Mets will have to play Nimmo at left field and call up Drew Gilbert to play the center field. Gilbert has been described as a player with speed and instincts with an upper arm that could cover the position well.
The plan in center field for the 2025 season
Drew Gilbert would continue to develop in center field during the 2025 season, showing his above-average arm as a plus in his defense. However, Gilbert is a player projected to produce with power in the long term, which would also require him to gain more weight and lose athleticism to cover the CF, so his long-term permanence would be limited.
The plan in center field for 2026 and beyond
Observing David Stearns' preference to enhance the best skills of each player in defense, we can expect that Gilbert will end up playing in the corner outfield, specifically in the right field, given his plus arm. In that scenario, the center field has to be covered by an athletic figure like Jett Williams.
Williams is an infielder with elite bat speed and tremendous athleticism, with his speed on the bases and in the field. However, scouts project that Williams' instincts in the infield would not allow him to cover shortstop or second base at an above-league-average level. His speed and athleticism would make him an ideal candidate to cover the center field with projected above-average metrics.