The talk of the off-season was how the Mets would handle the log jam in the outfield. The team has six quality outfielders and several available utility players, with the ability to play the outfield. It appears that, for now, Jay Bruce will be a part of this club heading north. It will be difficult to trade Bruce if he is not getting the proper amount of at bats. Terry Collins will have the most bench depth he has had since becoming the manager in 2011.
Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce each have one year remaining on their contracts. Granderson has been a leader in the clubhouse since his arrival, and has produced on the field. Left field will be Yoenis Cespedes’s corner and it would be wise to keep him away from centerfield to prevent injury. His presence in the lineup is too important to be lost for any length of time. Granderson has the ability to fill in at center field, as he did late last season. It is not the ideal place for him, but Bruce is a natural right fielder and does not have the ability to slide over to centerfield.
Juan Lagares has been a frustrating player to watch throughout his career. He began showing signs of life at the plate to go along with his gold glove, but injuries have prevented any momentum. Lagares’s highlight was his performance in the World Series. He went 3 for 10 with a stolen base. It appeared he had put all the tools together. Again, Lagares’s 2016 season was up and down with injuries.
Michael Conforto is the future of this outfield, despite a disappointing 2016 season. Conforto belongs in left field, but will not have that chance for obvious reasons. He has a smooth swing and needs to show consistency against lefties and righties. With two contracts up after this season, next year will be Conforto’s year to play full time. In the meantime, there is no reason to keep him on the bench as a platoon player. He is better suited going to Las Vegas and playing every day while facing as many lefty pitchers as possible.
Brandon Nimmo is the one player that brings incredible energy and versatility to this roster. Nimmo has the ability to play above average defensively in any outfield position. He is capable of leading off and is not a liability on the base paths. He is not the flashy player, but provides a gritty option off the bench for Collins. He has more room for growth and has reached the level where he will learn more being around the big club. For this reason, he should earn a roster spot when camp breaks.
Starting Conforto in the minors and possibly moving Lagares for bullpen depth would allow Nimmo to provide the spark off the bench. Although Nimmo is not a plus defender like Lagares, he can still provide a defensive replacement option late in games. Despite a recent hamstring injury in the WBC for Team Italy, Nimmo is expected to test his leg this week. Originally, he was expected to be sidelined for several weeks.