Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen took the Jeff McNeil-to-the-outfield conversation further than ever a few days ago, saying outfield will be McNeil's "primary role."
"I think with (Juan) Lagares and (Keon) Broxton, and now Jeff McNeil moving to the outfield in a primary role, I think we've got five great outfielders that can give us a lot of length to our lineup," Van Wagenen told Bruce Beck of NBC on Sunday night on Sports Final.
The "primary role" statement is a bit further than Van Wagenen had gone.
He said last Wednesday that a solid amount of playing time in the outfield could go to McNeil, but stopped short of saying it would be his primary role.
"Let's be candid. The outfield is probably not our top priority at this point because with (Jeff) McNeil going out to the outfield, he gives us another really good weapon to be in the lineup on a potentially everyday basis," Van Wagenen said last Wednesday.
While speaking to Beck on Sunday, Van Wagenen said he believes the Mets have "five great outfielders."
Those outfielders are Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares, Keon Broxton, and McNeil.
Yoenis Cespedes, who is recovering from surgery on both heels, is expected to miss the majority of the season, though a return after the All-Star break hasn't been ruled out.
While McNeil played some left field in college, he has played there just eight times during his minor league career, with two of those games coming last season with Triple-A Las Vegas (in left field).
Using McNeil in the outfield in a primary role is a bit eye-opening for two reasons.
First, there's the question of whether he can handle it. Clearly, the Mets have information that leads them to believe he can.
Second, McNeil's profile -- high on-base skills, not a lot of power -- is arguably better utilized at second base than in a corner outfield spot. If McNeil can play average or better defense out there it could up his value and this could all be moot. But that remains to be seen.