The New York Mets should strongly consider trading for Starling Marte

New York Mets interested in trading for Starling Marte.

Centerfield has been an area of need for the New York Mets for quite some time now. To be fair, the team does have a few options capable of playing passable defense there. However, they are all better suited in a corner. Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are two perfect examples.

If the season started today, Nimmo would likely be the starting center fielder because Juan Lagares, the team’s leader in innings at the position with 703.2, is now a free agent.

And while Nimmo’s on-base skills are excellent, his fielding left a lot to be desired, especially in center (-6.7 UZR/150 and -2 DRS) and leftfield (-7.1 UZR/150 and -1 DRS.) In right field, though, he excelled to the tune of a 23.6 UZR/150 and +2 DRS, albeit in a very limited sample size (38.1 frames.)

Conforto’s -15.2 UZR/150 in center in 2019 was very poor, as was his -4 DRS. He had positive marks in both fielding indicators when playing in the corners, however.

Who will be the New York Mets‘ center fielder?

Who will play center field, then? Starling Marte, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ star, maybe an option to explore via trade. Granted, it was in left field, but the Dominican is the owner of two Gold Glove awards.

The player himself recently told Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z 101 that he would like to be traded to a contender. After all, he is 31 and has played with the lowly Pirates his whole career.

Marte remains the best and most valuable trade chip Pittsburgh has. The likelihood of a deal is rather high, and the Mets should pounce because while he had a down 2019 with the glove, he has shown in the past that he can be competent out there. Plus, he had one of his most exceptional years with the bat.

Additionally, Marte has affordable club options for 2020 and 2021 of $11.5 and $12.5 million, which lines up perfectly with the Mets’ window of contention.

Could it happen?

The Mets are known to be interested, and as far as Marte goes, he would have no problem in joining them. “It would be an honor to play with them,” he allegedly told Gómez.

Marte would, at last, stabilize the position for the Mets. He had a fantastic year at the plate in 2019, with a .295/.342/.503 slash line, 23 home runs, 25 steals, 97 runs, 82 RBI, and 3.0 fWAR.

However, after an outstanding 2018 playing center field full-time (he had +5.2 fielding runs according to Fangraphs’ player page), he regressed to -5.7 this season.

He had -8.3 UZR/150 and -9 DRS in 1141.1 frames in center in 2019. He wasn’t good. However, he was more than passable there as recently as 2018, when he registered a 4.4 UZR/150 mark and +1 DRS.

Moving pieces around

Marte has the speed and athleticism to rebound. He is capable of occupying the New York Mets‘ center field for the next two years. And those same attributes plus his increasingly potent bat could play near the top of the order.

The thing is that to accommodate Marte, at least a couple of players from the JD Davis, Nimmo, Dom Smith, and Conforto group would have to play less. Davis can play third, but that’s Jeff McNeil’s position. Smith is a first baseman, but… hello Pete Alonso!

These things always work themselves out with the help of trades, minor league options, ineffectiveness of injuries. It’s never a bad thing to have depth, and that shouldn’t stop the Mets from pursuing Marte.