Is changing the central square necessary?
How safe are the New York Mets in center field? Over the past two seasons, the team has signed a major free agent at the position. It may not necessarily seem that way because Starling Marte played mostly right field and it was as if Brandon Nimmo never left.
Two consecutive winters included a major addition to the Mets’ infield roster. They’ll need at least one more this season, but it probably won’t be in left field as originally thought.
Speculation has already been raised about the Mets potentially signing Manuel Margot to a deal. Some fans even brought up the names of other midfielders such as Harrison Bader and Kevin Kiermaier. Are any of these moves necessary?
Nemo was not a good defensive midfielder early in his career. That changed in 2021 when he suddenly seemed to have it figured out. The defensive metrics were in his favor. Watching it was enough to see the improvements. He can reach balls he couldn’t before. He was a little more agile in an Andrew Jones way. His dives and leaps would have been as suited to ballet as they were to the ball field.
Last year wasn’t the same. He received a negative rating on defense and committed the most fouls (4) in any season. Did Nemo retreat or was it just a simple hiccup?
The problem with the Mets signing or trading for a new center fielder after paying Nimmo a large sum of money is how dependent they are on the bats they currently have. Public defense is improving. Playbacks will be saved. Nemo could be an excellent left fielder. The problem is that many of the Mets’ center field options have their own issues.
Margot, Bader, and Kiermaier aren’t exactly Cal Ripken Jr. when it comes to health. He missed all the big time. They’re not complete garbage in the starting lineup, however, and no one comes close to giving the Mets what they need most offensively.
One possibility that could work is for the Mets to look to improve their center field and add a corner outfielder for most DH at-bats. Would a year or two from Kiermaier plus Teoscar Hernandez make the Mets that much better? Nimmo is the favorite to move to center field if injured. Hernandez is an acceptable left fielder if necessary.
Improving center field certainly doesn’t rank high on the Mets’ list of priorities. The Mets have already tried two years in a row. What the Mets should avoid doing is settling for low-energy players. If they foul their cornerback with a pop, perhaps we can then discuss a change in schemes in the middle of the field. Even then, these guys are far behind others on the list of players the Mets need to add.