Michelle Ioannou, MetsBlog | Twitter |
It's risky for the Mets to not acquire another outfielder. Duh, right? But it's so much more than that. Here are three reasons why the Mets' need for an outfielder is so glaring...
Michael Conforto is still recovering from his shoulder injury
Conforto is not expected to be ready for Opening Day, and his injury is a punch to the gut that I don't need to re-live. He's supposed to be the kid who can be placed anywhere in the outfield without us having to worry. He got experience in center field last season just for this reason. But the Mets are likely not going to have him on the roster when the season begins, and we're not sure for how long after that.
And, even when he does come back, he'll need to take it slow -- we all know what has happened in the past when players tried to rush back to playing full-time (cough cough, Yoenis Cespedes). We can't count on Conforto from the get-go and need someone to fill that void.
Speaking of Cespedes...
Yoenis Cespedes prefers to remain in left field, limiting the Mets' options
Cespedes cannot cover left field, right field and center all by himself in one game, despite the fact that he's the Mets' only "sure thing" in the outfield if nothing changes. Yeah, yeah he has the talent to be able to cover any of those positions if needed, and he has the arm as well. But, we all know Cespedes pretty much refuses to play anywhere but left field. And that doesn't help at all when there's two other positions out there that need to be covered.
His left field preference aside, Cespedes hasn't had a full healthy season since coming to the Mets. Between his quad and his hamstring acting up in the past, can we assume that he's going to go the entire 2018 season unscratched? I don't think so, and it's not something the Mets should be banking on.
The Mets can't bank on Juan Lagares or Brandon Nimmo
Yes, there are other outfielders on the team besides Conforto and Cespedes. I am quite the big fan of Juan Lagares and am anxiously awaiting for Juanny Beisbol to come back and surprise us all at the plate this season. But, despite being a Gold Glove winner, when was the last time Lagares was the team's starting center fielder, playing every day? 2014? That's a pretty long time.
We know he wants to go back to being the starting center fielder, and we know that he's taking this offseason seriously (just follow him on Instagram if you don't know what I'm talking about). But are we just going to throw him out there this season to play every game in center and hope that his stamina is back to where it was, and that his hitting has drastically improved from the past couple of seasons? There's also the fact that Lagares dealt with injuries during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, playing 79 and 94 games, respectively.
Brandon Nimmo became a starting outfielder toward the end of last season when he was needed. No, he didn't do a poor job and he did get experience in left, right, and center. But he's still so inexperienced. He hasn't had enough time in the majors to be considered a starter heading into 2018.
Sandy Alderson has suggested the Mets want an outfielder who can also play first base, so I of course want Jay Bruce to come back -- and a reunion remains possible. Bruce fills the 1B/OF criteria perfectly, knows the team, the ballpark, and the city, and knows the fans and the media. He's the veteran player that can be a guide to the rest of the youngins, and maybe help Nimmo become a starter one day, as he will likely get that role eventually (just hopefully not this season).
The Mets have also reportedly had contact with free agent OF Lorenzo Cain and have talked with the Pirates about trading for Andrew McCutchen, so we know they are open to adding someone who only plays outfield (I mean, they have to be, right?). I'd prefer McCutchen over Cain, as McCutchen is a bit more versatile. As has been the case all offseason, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.