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Mets free agency rumours: Brandon Nimmo or bust in center field?

By on November 3, 2022 0

If the Mets don’t put all of their proverbial eggs in the basket that re-signs Brandon Nimmo, they could face a tough winter that tears a significant void within the Mets roster.

Nimmo is a free agent this offseason, coming off a 2022 career in which he posted career highs in games played (151) and RBI (64) to go with an ever-improving .800 OPS and glove in the center field that has made him a key cog in the Mets machine atop the roster map or while patrolling the outfield.

“This outfield is not easy to play. Our ballpark is removing home runs,” the Mets general manager said. Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman on the show. “We all realize and recognize that. Depending on the year, it could be the 26th, 27th, 28th toughest park to hit a home run. This leaves plenty of opportunities for balls to land in the outfield and fall short of the wall.

Nimmo is the most valuable center back available on the market this offseason, which means the Mets are more likely than not to face a regression if he leaves.

His 8.7 WAR in the 2021 and 2022 seasons (h/t MLB.com) is five points ahead of the second-best free agent center fielder in Kevin Kiermaier, who posted a paltry .649 OPS in 2022 with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Barring a trade, that would make veteran center fielder Starling Marte, who started his career at center field but has since moved to right field at age 34, the Mets’ next best option. It’s a concept that doesn’t seem to appeal to Eppler.

“We believe it can [play center field]”, Eppler said. “Part of the rationale for signing Marte wasn’t so much that he was a centre-back…Having an above-average defense in all three positions was important to me, important to [manager Buck Showalter]. Can Starling still play center? Yes, we believe we can. This opens up some option on how we would ultimately fill that outfield.

Of course, that hinges on the return of Nimmo, who has reportedly sparked interest from the Colorado Rockies – the team he grew up on in Wyoming.

“That being said, this is not a closed case by any stretch of the imagination,” Eppler continued.

Potential right-field options in the free agent market don’t inspire much confidence either – outside of the pipe dream of attracting Aaron Judge away from the Bronx — if the Mets were forced to move Marte to center field.

Mitch Haniger has averaged 162 games for 37 home runs and 101 RBI over the past two seasons, but has only played 57 games in 2022 due to COVID, a sprained ankle and health issues. back. He also posted a -3 in recorded defensive runs and an above-average -7 outs over 1,080.2 innings in 2021.

Right field options are becoming rarer on the open market with the likes of Wil Myers — who played just 36 games in that position in 2022 with the San Diego Padres — as well as former Mets Michael Conforto and Tyler Naquin offering the following best options.

This would raise questions as to whether Jeff McNeil would be the most suitable insider option in such a hypothetical situation given his on-field experience at Citi Field, although the Mets would then have to seek a full-time second baseman. . – a position in which McNeil excelled.

Granted, it’s about the “optionality” that Eppler mentioned, but it’s abundantly clear that the Mets won’t find many other options outside of a hit trade than making sure Nimmo stays. in Queens to keep center field all to himself.

It’s a good thing the 29-year-old is ready to stay with the club that drafted him 11 years ago.

“I’m really interested, but there’s a lot going into this offseason and like I said, I’m still trying to digest that,” Nimmo said after the Mets were eliminated from the NL Wild Card. “But I’m definitely interested. There is no question.”

For more on the Mets and Brandon Nimmo, visit AMNY.com