The New York Mets are clearly taking a win-now approach to the 2019 offseason. GM Brodie Van Wagenen has gone out and acquired Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Marlins. Van Wagenen is also talking to many free agents, and he is strongly pushing for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Van Wagenen has a long list of needs to build the 2019 Mets roster into a legit contender, and outfield is one of them. After parting with Jay Bruce, the Mets current roster has a starting three of Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Juan Lagares.
It is unknown when slugger Yoenis Cespedes will be able to return to the lineup after offseason heel surgery. Van Wagenen is clearly going to need to acquire another outfield bat, either via free agency or trade. Preferably, a right-handed hitting centerfielder. Here are five options that he should definitely consider.
New York Mets Outfield Options
Sign OF A.J. Pollock (30)
The Mets are said to be “kicking the tires” on Pollock, as he is very high up on there list. Pollock fits their needs, as he is a very strong defensive centerfielder, and he is a right-handed bat with some pop. The biggest knock on Pollock, is the question of his ability to stay on the field. Over the past three seasons he has been limited to just 237 games.
When healthy though, Pollock is a very productive bat. For his career, he is a .281/.338/.467 hitter with 144 doubles, 29 triples, and 74 home runs. He also has an average 112 OPS+ for his career. In 2018, he had 21 home runs, 65 RBI and a .800 OPS in 113 games for the Diamondbacks.
Pollock certainly won’t come cheap, he is expected to make around $80 million this offseason. However, he would certinaly fill a huge void in the middle of the Mets outfield and lineup.
Trade for Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig (28)
The Dodgers are said to be shopping both Puig and Matt Kemp to make some room in a crowded outfield. Despite some reports saying the Mets have no interest due to Puig’s past, they should certainly rethink this and take a long look at the 28-year old outfielder.
First of all, he would only be a rental. Under his current contract, Puig has just one year left and is owed a very affordable $11.3 million. Being that he is a rental, the Dodgers likely wouldn’t be asking for all that much in return.
Despite having trouble staying on the field, Puig is still productive offensively. In 2018, he hit 23 home runs, had 15 stolen bases, and an .820 OPS over 125 games. He is also well above average in right, and still has one of the strongest arms in the game.
“Character issues” aside, Puig is the type of guy the Mets need in the middle of their lineup. He brings a solid power/speed combo, and would offer a certain fire and energy that this current team lacks. In this scenario, the Mets could slide Nimmo over to center and Puig could man right. They should certainly rethink their lack of interest, and look to acquire Puig.
Trade for Tigers OF Nick Castellanos (26)
The Detroit Tigers are listening to offers on the 26-year old this offseason. Castellanos is certainly the type of bat Mets that would be intriguing to the Mets. He has some pop, and is a right-handed middle-of-the-order bat. He could certainly slide right into the top of the Mets order right away.
The past three years he has only gotten better and better at the plate. In 2018, he posted career-high in hits (185), runs (88), batting average (.298), slugging (.354) and on-base percentage (.500), as well as OPS+ (130) and OPS (.854).
There is no denying Castellanos is a stud offensively, and is still in his prime at just 26-years old. However, it is a completely different story defensively. The Tigers tried him at third early in his career and it didn’t work out there. He was then moved to right field, and his struggles continued. In 2018, he recorded a -2.4 dWAR and -19 defensive runs saved.
Castellanos would force Nimmo to center where he is below average, and then they would have a well below average defender in right as well. The Mets should only explore this option if they become extremely desperate to find offensive production in the outfield.
Sign OF Adam Jones (33)
On Wednesday, the Mets met with Jones at the Winter Meetings. Jones is a rather interesting player. If you look at his counting stats, he is a solid ballplayer. However, analytically he is a player on a very steep decline.
Over the past three seasons in Baltimore, Jones has hit .277/.315/.440 with a 101 wRC+. In 2018, he had 35 doubles and 15 home runs, but posted a .732 OPS and had a 0.5 WAR. Defensively, he wasn’t much better as he had a -18 defensive runs saved in center and -6 in right field.
Jones has spent eleven of his thirteen years in the league with the Baltimore Orioles. He is a four-time Gold Glove winner and a five-time American League All-Star. However, at this point in his career the Mets may be better off looking elsewhere for an significant outfield upgrade.
Sign OF Bryce Harper (26)
The top, but most unlikely option, of course is Bryce Harper. Harper is seeking a contract that the Wilpons are just simply not willing to dish out. In fact, it doesn’t even seem likely the team met with Harper and Scott Boras at the Winter Meetings.
Harper would be the perfect fit for the “win-now” New York Mets. He would be the star this team needs. A former enemy, Harper would electrify this fanbase. All would be forgiven if he came in and hit 30+ homers a season in orange and blue.
Harper would absolutely thrive with the attention and electricity that comes with playing in New York. An offense with Nimmo, Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and recently acquired Robinson Cano with Harper would be stellar. Acquiring a stud like Harper could also give the Mets a chance to move one of their young outfielders for other big pieces, i.e. Corey Kluber.
In the end, the most likely options appear to be either Pollock or Jones. Pollock could certainly be a nice asset for the Mets IF he can stay healthy. Even Jones could be a nice addition. Hopefully a little change of scenery from Baltimore could do him some good in 2019. Either way, whichever one the Mets end up signing, there is still more work to be done to build this team into a contender.