Starling Marte, New York Mets
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Despite their interest in Starling Marte, the New York Mets would be better off without Starling Marte in the outfield in 2020 and beyond. 

Thomas Hall

Coming into this offseason, the New York Mets were determined to make an upgrade in the outfield. They acquired Jake Marisnick from the Astros back on Dec. 5 but that doesn’t mean they’re done making moves.

While Brodie Van Wagenen has reportedly questioned the availability of superstar players Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor, the Mets general manager has additionally shown interest in Starling Marte. It doesn’t appear that Marte will be dawning blue pinstripes in 2020 though. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mets have actually halted their pursuit of the Pirates veteran.

One of the major reasons New York made this decision is because of Carlos Beltran‘s belief in his former teammate. The first-year Mets manager and Marisnick have continued a strong relationship dating back to 2017. Their time together began in Houston, which also played a major factor in his acquisition from the Astros.

Marisnick recorded the best season of his career during Beltran’s final year as a player. During that 2017 campaign, Marisnick played 106 games and recorded ten doubles, 16 home runs, 35 RBI’s, a career-high 117 wRC+, 1.4 fWAR and a slashing line of .243/.319/.496/.815. Clearly, Marisnick caught Beltran’s attention during that championship run.

Earlier this offseason, Beltran confirmed that Marisnick will receive even more playing time in 2020. The Mets manager believes that those additional plate appearances will lead to improved results from his former teammate.

Beltran witnessed first-hand the type of impact Marisnick is capable of. Therefore, he’s confident the defensive-first outfielder will be able to replicate his 2017 performance through next season.

It’s understandable if you wanted Marte. But to be honest, the solution to the Mets’ situation in center field shouldn’t include acquiring him, and there are numerous reasons as to why.

Heading into next season, the Mets are planning to utilize both Brandon Nimmo and Marisnick in center field. Despite Nimmo’s health concerns and Marisnick’s issues at the plate, the Mets are better off with them instead of Marte.

Based on the Pirates’ asking price, the cost to acquire the aging outfielder wouldn’t benefit the Mets at all. If Van Wagenen were to acquire Marte, he’d likely need to deal Nimmo and a pair of prospects.

At that cost, the Mets would be further depleting their already thinned-out prospect system. Plus, the Mets would also be increasing their payroll in 2020 and 2021. Marte is scheduled to earn $11.5 million next season along with a club option for $12.5 million during 2021.

Not to mention, the Mets would also be receiving an outfielder who’s five years older than Nimmo.

If healthy, Nimmo could very easily become more valuable than Marte in 2020. During the 2018 season, Nimmo produced 28 doubles, 17 home runs, 47 RBI’s, a .219 ISO, .351 BABIP, 15.0% walk rate, 26.2% strikeout rate, 148 wRC+, 4.5 fWAR, and an impressive slashing line of .263/.404/.483/.886 through 140 games.

Despite playing in just 69 games in 2019, Nimmo hopes to remain healthy through next season. By doing so, the 26-year-old should be able to replicate his 2018 performance.

In comparison, Marte generated 31 doubles, 23 home runs, 82 RBI’s, a .208 ISO, .319 BABIP, 4.3% walk rate, 16.0% strikeout rate, 119 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR, and a hitting line of .295/.342/.503/.845 during 132 games last season.

Despite his respectable offensive results from the 2019 campaign, Marte’s declining defensive attributes have become a major concern. This past season, Marte committed five errors along with a +2 OAA, -9 DRS, -7.6 UZR, and a -8.3 UZR/150 through 1,141.1 innings in center field.

Pete Alonso, LFGM T-Shirt

Based on these numbers above, the Mets should be concerned about Marte when it comes to that aspect of the game. During the 2018 season, he committed just three errors and recorded a +10 OAA, +1 DRS, 3.2 UZR, and a 4.4 UZR/150 over 1,196.1 innings. Marte will also be entering his age-32 season in 2020. Therefore, his defensive woes from this past season could become even worse.

Defensively, Marisnick recorded much better results than Marte this past season. During his 733.0 innings in center field, the 28-year-old committed just a single error and generated a +8 OAA (tied for 11th-best in the league), +5 DRS, 3.4 UZR, and 5.4 UZR/150.

It’s no question that the Mets desperately require improved results from their center field spot. But Van Wagenen is aware of the high risks surrounding Marte. This is likely why the Mets have backed away from the trade discussions with the Pirates.

All-in-all, since Van Wagenen is attempting to improve his team’s defense, the Mets are making the right decision by not acquiring him. Given their struggles in center field last year, it’s understandable why he would seem like a fit. However, a platoon of both Nimmo and Marisnick will likely outperform Marte’s production at the plate and in the field.