The New York Mets essentially replaced long-time outfielder Michael Conforto by signing Starling Marte and Mark Canha to lucrative deals on the same day. Marte was expected to play every day in center field with Canha taking one of the corner outfield spots while Brandon Nimmo played the other.
While on paper that seemed like a solid plan, the injury bug has already hit the Mets. Marte has been dealing with an oblique injury since the start of camp that has delayed the start of his spring. Marte expects to be able to start hitting and playing the field next week, but obviously, injuries are hard to predict; especially oblique injuries.
The Mets have had awful luck with the injury bug the last couple of years, it'd be incredibly disappointing if Marte had to begin his Mets tenure on the IL. The Mets don't seem so concerned, but it's hard to not worry a little bit about it.
With Marte already hurt, the Mets have yet another reason to sign Michael Conforto.
When the lockout ended, the Mets already had their outfield in place with Nimmo, Marte, and Canha. On paper, Conforto might not be the best fit. However, Marte is already hurt and he is the most durable outfielder on the Mets roster. Nimmo, while very productive, only played in 92 games. He's played over 100 games once, and that came back in 2018. Canha played in a career-high 141 games last season but played through a hip injury that has plagued him for years now and seemed to hamper his production in the second half. He has played in 100 or more games four times in eight seasons.
Conforto did miss some time last season, but still played in 123 games. That was the fourth most on the team. In 2018 and 2019, the last two full seasons before the 2021 campaign, Conforto played in 150+ games.
Last season was a down year for Conforto as he slashed .232/.344/.729 with 14 home runs and 55 RBI. Even with his down year, Conforto was a tick above average as he had a 101 OPS+. When right, Conforto is an impact bat in the lineup. He can hit 30 home runs while getting on base at a very high clip while playing solid outfield defense.
If Marte does end up on the injured list to begin the season, the Mets will have Nimmo in center field alongside Canha and either Dom Smith or J.D. Davis. We've seen how bad Smith and Davis are in the outfield, I'd rather not have to see that again.
When everyone is healthy, Conforto can still play the outfield. Canha is a versatile player with experience in all three outfield spots in addition to first base and even four career games at third base. With his injury history and Nimmo's extensive injury history, the Mets would be better off giving those guys regular rest anyways whether it's with them serving as the DH for a game or just not playing at all.
left-handedSigning Conforto gives the Mets a consistent left handed power bat which this lineup could definitely use, as well as a guy they can rely upon to be pretty durable. With the upgrades the Braves and Phillies have made since the lockout ended, the NL East is no sure thing. The Mets have to continue to be aggressive in free agency and Conforto is the best player available by far.
At this point, he will likely be seeking a one-year prove-it deal, so there won't even be a long-term commitment. If he struggles again, the Mets can let him walk. With Marte's injury and the other question marks on this team, in addition to needing a left-handed power bat, a Conforto reunion makes too much sense to not happen at this point.