The Mets are still in need of a center-fielder. George Springer was the clear number one target for the Mets. However, the Mets were subsequently beat out and outbid by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Mets reportedly offered Springer a six-year deal worth around $125 million and were unwilling to budge. Springer reportedly went to the Blue Jays for one last time and the Blue Jays up their offer to $150 million. Could former Red Sock Jackie Bradley Jr. be a potential backup plan?
Mets Lose Springer to Blue Jays
As a result, Springer chose the Blue Jays and heads north of the border for the next six years. This affects the Mets in a couple of ways. The Mets have around $26-32 million available before they hit the luxury tax threshold. They still have a couple of needs that they need to fill. Center-field is one, along with third-base. The Mets have also been in contact with free-agent pitcher Trevor Bauer. Bauer would not necessarily fill a need, though the Mets could use more depth with pitching.
Bauer would essentially eat up all of the remaining money the Mets have until they hit the tax. On the other hand, it’s unclear whether the Mets would like to stay under or prefer to stay under the tax for this year. Earlier in the offseason, I would’ve said the latter, but it’s plausible the Mets’ plans may have changed.
Jackie Bradley Next Best Option For The Mets?
The second-best center-fielder on the market is Jackie Bradley Jr., who had a breakout season with the Boston Red Sox. Bradley Jr. played in 55 games for the Red Sox and put up his best batting average to date, at .283. Along with that, he had seven home runs and 22 RBI. His strikeout-to-walk rate was also the best of his career, as he had 48 strikeouts to 23 walks. He essentially put up the same WAR as he had in 2019, 1.5 in 2020 vs 1.4 in 2019, in 92 fewer games.
Defensively, Bradley Jr. has always been one of the best in the league. This, is, of course, an area that the Mets have struggled mightily in recent years. Brandon Nimmo has held down the position most recently, however, he is best fit to be placed in left field, which the stats show. In left-field, Nimmo has 5 DRS, 3.0 UZR, and an overall RngR of 2.9 in 837.1 innings played.
In center field, his DRS drops to an astounding -14, his UZR drops to -9.6, and his RngR drops to -6.7 in over 1000 innings at the position. Bradley, on the other hand, has put up significantly better numbers in center-field. Bradley has 48 DRS, a 30.8 UZR, and a 10.6 RngR in 6754.1 innings at the position. Most recently, in 2020, Bradley had 5 DRS, while Nimmo had -5 DRS in about 162 fewer innings.
Mets In Desperate Need Of Center Fielder
Therefore, it’s clear the Mets have a huge need in center-field. However, it will be a decision that will be made based on who the Mets would rather have. Subsequently, it’s tough to imagine the Mets fitting Bauer AND Bradley Jr. unless the Mets rid of another contract such as Jeurys Familia. Evidently, the need for a center-fielder may outweigh the want for Trevor Bauer.
Additionally, it also depends on o whether the Mets would stomach meeting the demands of Bradley, which include a four-year deal of around $60 million. While the Mets may prefer a shorter-term deal, they may have to budge due to the understandable competition for his services. If the Mets are going to succeed next season, they’re going to need to ensure that their defense is a big reason why.
The Mets defense has ranked at or near the bottom for the last few seasons. Unfortunately for the club, it has played a big part in their struggles due to player splaying out of position, so on and so forth. Bradley Jr. would provide stability at the position for the Mets and give them strong defense up the middle, following the earlier acquisition of Francisco Lindor at shortstop.
Therefore, it would behoove the Mets to sign Bradley and stick a true center fielder at the position, rather than doing what they usually do. Of course, the universal DH decision will play a big role in this, which is one reason why this may be taking much longer than expected.