The New York Mets entered the new year active by signing Harrison Bader to a one-year, $10.5 million contract. Bader projects as the team's center fielder when in the lineup, occasionally moving Brandon Nimmo to left field.
Bader is a player recognized for his defensive level, which places him in the 95th percentile in outs above average, and for his speed with a sprint speed, which places him in the top 8% of the league. However, the offensive aspect has been disappointing, although his splits against left-handed pitchers were impressive in 2023 with a .299/.361/.575/.936. For this reason, Bader could be in a permanent platoon role in the center field, taking Nimmo to the left field against lefties, which would generate many worrying aspects.
Moving Nimmo to the outfield could harm the possible arrival of Juan Soto to the Mets
One of the most important decisions for the Mets last offseason was to sign Nimmo because his cost and value were as a center field, even though his stay in the position would not last his entire contract. Therefore, the Mets overpaid for him because he had shown that he could handle the position long-term at a level slightly above the league average.
For this, Nimmo adjusted his level of defensive play, enhancing his ability to cover the outfield. Now, with the arrival of Bader, Nimmo would be seeing less action in center field and adjusting to left field, harming his advancement and exposure in an elite position that he was beginning to dominate.
After the 2024 season, the Mets would be in free agency looking for outfielders where Juan Soto stands out from the group that will be available. This would imply that Nimmo would have to return at full capacity to manage a center field in which he would be losing conditions given his adjustment to the left field this season.
This decision to sign Bader could jeopardize Nimmo's improvement in his defensive level, as long as the Mets are in favor of making a run for Soto's services. Looking at what has happened this offseason and the priority on strengthening the organization's farm system, we should ask ourselves, is there a real possibility that the Mets go for Soto? Or is this movement by Bader, like others, the possible result of a longer-term plan than a short-term one?
In any case, it should be noted that it would be fatal for the Mets' destiny to waste the prime years of players like Francisco Lindor or Nimmo himself, which also entails a significant financial commitment. The Mets, under the magnifying glass of David Stearns, must offer greater clarity about their mid-term plan so that fans can adjust their expectations for the coming seasons.