The Mets need an experienced, everyday center fielder, specifically Brett Gardner.
The Yankees, though, again have a hole in center filed now that Aaron Hicks is expected to miss a large chunk of the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery.
This is why earlier this month, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he's been in contact with Gardner's agent, despite reports late in the season that their time together had likely come to an end.
"I want to continue playing," Gardner said in October, according to the New York Post. "Physically and mentally I feel great. My family wants me to keep playing. Hopefully, that's here (with the Yankees)."
MLB insiders I know say Gardner will likely end up getting a one-year, $10-12 million deal (like last year), be it from the Yankees or a dozen other teams in need of an outfielder, such as the Indians and D-backs.
As for the Mets, the way it stands, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto will almost certainly be in the outfield come 2020. And Brodie Van Wagenen already has internal options for filling the third spot because Jeff McNeil and J.D Davis both play left field and third base.
However, while Nimmo can play a decent center field, his defensive statistics and scouting reports all indicate he's best suited in the corner. The same can be said about Conforto.
This is why the Mets need Gardner, who will not break the bank, has played 12 seasons in New York, and assuming he is healthy, can be out there every day and every night.
The position is just too important to have inexperienced players rotating in and out all season.
The Mets were dead last among NL teams in defensive runs saved (DRS) this past season, during which they also made the fifth-most errors. Their players are not bad fielders. Instead, I contend that their inconsistent and sloppy results are mostly a byproduct of an inconsistent defensive alignment.
For what it's worth, the correlation between consistent playing time and quality fielding is something new manager Carlos Beltran often talked about when he played for the Mets.
There is an understandable focus on how often an outfielder catches the baseball and how accurate of a throw he will make when attempting to throw out a runner. However, equally important is how quickly he gets the ball back to the infield so the runner remains at first base. By doing so, it not only keeps the opposition out of scoring position, it also allows for a standard double play.
Thanks to 1,500 games doing it, Gardner is much better at getting to the ball and quicker and more accurate getting it to the infield than Nimmo or Conforto. This simple improvement would play a major role in improving the team's fielding, especially when working behind a contact pitcher like Marcus Stroman.
Obviously, signing a 36-year-old to play center fielder is a bit of a health risk. However, even if he does end up on the injured list, Nimmo or Conforto can fill in for him in center with McNeil or Davis sliding to the outfield.
The Yankees didn't intend for Gardner to play as much as he did in 2019, but injuries led to him getting 550 plate appearances, during which he hit a career-high 28 home runs and had .503 slugging percentage. Of course, he also had a career-high 38 percent fly ball rate during a season when the same could be said for most of the league.
I wouldn't expect Gardner to hit 28 home runs for the Mets, though. Because, while more lift may result in added home runs in Yankee Stadium, it could just as easily end up being a pop out playing in Citi Field.
In the field, though, despite being close to 10 years older than Nimmo and Conforto, Gardner performed above average and better in center than them during his 920 innings there -- his most at that position since 2013.
The better overall improvement would be to sign Anthony Rendon or Josh Donaldson to play third base, lock McNeil in to left and use Nimmo and Conforto in center and right field.
But Van Wagenen also needs to spend money on a fifth starter, round out his bench and add at least two relievers, which doesn't leave much room for a $25-30 million third baseman.
Instead, giving $10-12 million to Gardner should leave room for other upgrades, while more importantly establishing order with a player that has been there and done that in New York.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.