The New York Mets have clearly done their homework this offseason by addressing the starting rotation, the bullpen, and bringing one of the best shortstops in the game in Francisco Lindor. However, they still have one glaring hole in the defensive alignment: center field.
Itâ€™s not like the Mets donâ€™t have alternatives. Brandon Nimmo is one of the best leadoff hitters in MLB, capable of taking walks, hitting for power, and contributing on the basepaths. The problem is that no metric rates him as a good, or even average, defender out there in center.
The Mets were connected to George Springer all winter, but he ended up signing with the Toronto Blue Jays. That has caused the team to shift their focus to the second-best center fielder in the free agency pool: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley Jr. had +5 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in the shortened 2020 season and is one of the gameâ€™s premier center fielders. Offensively, he has been a bit below average overall in his career (a 93 wRC+ confirms that, with 100 being league average offense) but he was good last season, with a .283/.364/.450 slash line, a .352 wOBA, and a 120 wRC+. He also hit seven home runs and stole five bases.
The Mets donâ€™t want a long-term contract
According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the talented defensive wizard is looking for a “significant contract, perhaps beyond four years.”
SNY’s Andy Martino had reported in the past that Bradley wanted a long-term deal, but every indication is that the Mets prefer a shorter commitment for the 30-year-old outfielder.
The fact that Springer signed in Toronto means that the New York Mets could risk looking at the bottom barrel of the free agent market if they swing and miss on Bradley, too.
On the last week of January, Martino had stated that while the Mets and Bradley make a lot of sense, both sides were “far apart in value.”