How secure are the New York Mets in center field? For the past two offseasons, the team has signed a major free agent at the position. It may not necessarily feel that way because Starling Marte has mostly played right field and it was as if Brandon Nimmo never left.
Two straight winters have included a major addition to the Mets roster in the outfield. They’re going to need at least one more this offseason, but maybe it won’t be in left field as originally thought.
Speculation about the Mets possibly swinging a deal for Manuel Margot has already been kicked around. Some fans have even thrown out the names of other center fielders such as Harrison Bader and Kevin Kiermaier. Are any of those moves necessary?
The Mets are better off improving left field and hoping for the best with Brandon Nimmo
Nimmo was not a good defensive center fielder early on in his career. This changed in 2021 when he suddenly seemed to figure it out. Defensive metrics favored him. Watching him was enough to see the improvements. He could get to balls he never could before. He was a bit more graceful in an Andruw Jones kind of way. His dives and leaps could’ve fit in as well at the ballet as they do on the ball field.
This past year wasn’t the same. He rated negatively on defense and made his highest number of errors (4) in any season. Did Nimmo regress or was it a minor hiccup?
The problem with the Mets signing or trading for a new center fielder after just paying Nimmo a whole lot of money is how much more dependent they become on the bats they currently have. The overall defense does improve. Runs will be saved. Nimmo could be an excellent left fielder. The issue is that many of those center field options for the Mets have their own issues.
Margot, Bader, and Kiermaier aren’t exactly Cal Ripken Jr. when it comes to health. Each has missed significant time. They aren’t complete wastes in the starting lineup, however, none come close to giving the Mets what they need most on offense.
One possibility that may work is for the Mets to seek out a center field improvement and add a corner outfielder for most of the DH at-bats. Does a year or two of Kiermaier plus Teoscar Hernandez make the Mets a lot better? Nimmo is the clear favorite to move to center field in case of an injury. Hernandez is an acceptable left fielder if needed.
A center field improvement certainly doesn’t fall high on the list of priorities for the Mets. The Mets have already tried two years in a row. What the Mets should avoid doing is settling on low power players. If they snag their corner outfielder with pop, maybe then we can discuss a change in the blueprints in center field. Until then, those guys fall far behind the others on the list of players the Mets need to add.