Juan Lagares never quite lived up to expectations during his time with the New York Mets. At least he gave them good defense and for a couple of years, we knew who would be playing center field when the season began.
Injuries took their toll on Lagares. Underperforming at the plate as well, he eventually found himself in a non-starter role for the team. This forced the Mets to go on an annual offseason hunt for a backup outfielder capable of playing center field.
Albert Almora Jr. Keon Broxton. Jake Marisnick. Cameron Maybin. They all joined the Mets at some point in the last few seasons. A combination of injuries and not playing very well at all doomed their tenure in Flushing.
Luckily, the Mets no longer have to hunt for a one-dimensional outfielder anymore
What I really like about the outfield the Mets have built this offseason is how versatile each of the expected starters is. We already knew how much Brandon Nimmo could manage at the three outfield positions. Add in last year’s growth as a center fielder and you can almost say the addition of Starling Marte to the roster—from a defensive standpoint—wasn’t necessary.
Marte is expected to take over center field with Mark Canha filling in as the left fielder. Canha, also experienced at all three outfield positions plus first base, adds even more safety.
More than even what these guys can bring is what the Mets don’t have to consider reaching for when building their roster. A 26-man roster can fill up fast. Wasting even a single spot on a questionable player whose greatest asset is his outfield defense can come back and bite you fast.
How the rest of the Mets outfield could look behind these three
I think the Mets will keep two of these three: J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith. All three can play left field. McNeil can also play right field. I have no doubt the other two could also do it with some ability as well.
Whichever combination of those two you want to select from, each is probably a better fit on the infield. Only Davis could be questionable as a third baseman while Smith at first base and McNeil at second base is far more ideal.
Regardless, the Mets are open up to a lot more flexibility this way even further. They could conceivably carry a player exclusively for his bat or sneak through a series with a shorter bench—as long as the DH is present.
Injuries could always occur and force the Mets to overreach for some outfield solution. Until then, it’s hard to not feel good about the outfield situation.