The New York Mets can’t expect to move forward by simply retaining what they already have.Arguably the biggest question mark that still exists for the New York Mets as they head into the Winter Meetings: what will happen with their outfield?
As it stands today, the Mets’ starting outfielders would be Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, and Jay Bruce, all of whom are left-handed and not ideal in center field.
The Mets’ lineup looks even more unbalanced when you realize they also have Lucas Duda at first. That is four high-strikeout lefties that are supposed to carry the team.
Anytime the Mets run into a left-handed starter, they will be put at a huge disadvantage, with either a guy who can’t hit lefties or a lesser bench player in the lineup.
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It is quite evident that New York needs to make several moves in order to balance out their lineup before the season comes around.
The first move the Mets need to make is pretty obvious, and that would be to re-sign their Cuban slugger, Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes has carried the Mets line-up the past two seasons, and there is no way the Mets can expect to take the next step forward if they are setting themselves two steps back.
I believe that the Wilpons will ultimately realize that their window to win could only be open for a few more seasons, and will open up their wallets to give Cespedes a five-year, $140-150 million contract.
In that case, the Mets would need to trade either Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce. With Michael Conforto already manning one corner, there would be no need for two more aging, and expensive, corner outfielders.
There are plenty of teams that could use a left-handed slugger in the middle of the order and, in exchange for Bruce, the Mets could fill another hole — say in the bullpen.
So, when the Mets sign Cespedes and trade Bruce, should they be done? Absolutely not.
For the Mets to truly improve their team, and have a shot at returning to the World Series, they will also need to target a true, everyday center fielder.
Dexter Fowler is a guy who would fit this role perfectly.
Fowler is a switch-hitter, adding to the versatility of the Mets’ lineup. He is also a natural center fielder.
This would allow the Mets to play Cespedes in left field, where he will have a better chance of staying healthy for the entire season.
Anything that can ensure Cespedes is on the field as much as possible is a move the Mets need to make.
This would also relegate Curtis Granderson into a backup role, which may be best for the slugger at this stage in his career. With Fowler and Jose Reyes setting the table for Cespedes, Duda, and Neil Walker, the Mets offense would be in prime position to increase its productivity from a year ago.
Guys like Cabrera and Conforto, who were relied upon in the middle of the order throughout last season, would then be lower in the order, showcasing the team’s depth.
Defensively, the Mets would be mightily improved as well, with a gold glover in left alongside a true center fielder.
New York would lose its first-round draft pick by signing Fowler, as the Cubs did extend him a qualifying offer. However, that is a small price to pay considering how much more balanced and dynamic its offense would become.