By: Matt Williams

What will the Mets do in Center Field?


The 2016 New York Mets outfield as it stands is not going to get them to the playoffs. They know this, everyone knows this. Michael Conforto will likely be manning LF on a regular basis, while veteran Curtis Granderson holds down RF. I highly doubt Michael Cuddyer will make a serious dent into any playing time. That leaves former Gold Glover Juan Lagares to patrol center field in Queens.

If one could guarantee a return to the elite level of fielding Lagares showed before injury than that might even be enough. But given his below average performance in most offensive categories, he will likely need a dance partner to help with those splits versus RHP if he is to stay a part of this team. Otherwise, the Mets might need to find a trade partner to take a chance on him elsewhere. But first, let’s take a look at possible platoon mates for Lagares. These are players that can take the load off when there is a LHP on the mound:

GERARDO PARRA. The Mets considered trading for Parra in July, for the same reason they will consider him now. The man can hit RHP, with splits over the last couple of years between .273-.303. His splits against lefties make it hard to imagine a team letting him play everyday, so he could be a possibility. However, his defense has slipped quite a bit. After a tremendous 2013, his DRS has dropped significantly down to the most recent -10. This might not be that much of a concern, but the contract he is looking for (4 years) has been driven by a career year in 2015 after posting an offensive WAR of only -.1 and .1 the previous seasons. 2015 is a year he is unlikely to duplicate again. Moving on…

DENARD SPAN. This is a solid player the Mets should consider. He is coming off recent injury, but has shown the ability to stay healthy most of his career. Span, like Parra, can hit RHP. But Span has a solid track record of doing so, posting a .314 and .335 batting average against the last two seasons. From 2013-15, offensive WAR has been steady at 2.1, 4.2 and 1.8. That is the kind of consistency the Mets need offensively. Span’s defense is average and his splits against LHP may not make shim suitable for everyday play. But, he certainly could play every day if needed as his splits aren’t as extreme as others. This is the player the Mets should go after if they are looking for a platoon partner in my opinion. Span can play the position while batting leadoff successfully.

There are other platoon options out there. Players such as Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson could help some teams, but not the Mets. Their splits make them impossible to team up with Juan Lagares, and they are hardly talented enough to replace him. However, there are options out there if the Mets look to hand the center field job over to someone full time:

DEXTER FOWLER. Well, we know one thing; he knows the ivy rule at Wrigley. Other than that, he posts a solid WAR of 2 , 1.8, and 2.2 over the last three seasons. In that time, his offensive WAR was a steady 2.4, 3.9 and 3.5. This is likely the best offensive option the Mets are going to find from a pure center fielder on the open market. Like Lagares, Fowler hits LHP rather well. However, like Lagares, Fowler also struggles against RHP. This may not be an issue if it was not for the next fact. Dexter Fowler is a poor fielder. Dexter’s DFS the last three seasons is an underwhelming -3, -20, and -12. I am pretty sure if the Mets wanted to go that route in center field they might be better off with…

YOENIS CESPEDES. But, we all know this is not happening. While dominating at times, Cespedes is also a below average center fielder (he is however a gold glove left fielder, which is where he is best suited). For the amount of money he is going to command the Mets are better finding someone more suited to the position. His offense, while amazing to watch, has it’s holes. Maybe if he took a pitch, or two, or ten, the Mets could live with the defense. But given his likely OBP for the duration of his career, it is safe to assume the Mets are looking in another direction. Perhaps a trade for someone like…

CHARLIE BLACKMON. Numbers wise, this is your man. Blackmon smashes both LHP and RHP, for average and power, he steals bases, he has decent defense, and his contract is amazing. He is everything the Mets could want right? Well, not quite. His overall numbers are attractive, but they do come aided by the friendly surrounding in Coors Field. Away from Coors field, Blackmon is not the same player. Not to say he wouldn’t shine outside of Denver, but it is enough of a split difference to make you take a closer look. His contract is very team friendly at the moment, but that will cost you in a trade for him. Still, all things considered, if the Mets make a trade with the Rockies, I hope it is for Blackmon and not Carlos Gonzalez. If the Coors splits don’t scare you off, his injury history has to, just saying…

So there you have it. The Mets have options. Do they stick with what they have in Lagares and hope for a defensive bounce back? Do they sign a platoon partner and hope to create a solid center fielder day to day? Or do they look to make a trade, and get a true everyday centerfielder that they can feel comfortable putting in the lineup card every day? What do you think? Comment Below.

About Matt Williams

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