Veteran Mets outfielder is proving David Stearns right

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

After fan favorite outfielder Brandon Nimmo returned to Queens on an eight-year $162 million deal before the 2023 season,  Mets fans anticipated Nimmo to be manning center field for the foreseeable future.

Nimmo, who started his big league career primarily playing the corner outfield positions, has improved mightily in center field over the years but still struggled at times in 2023. He finished the season with a .988 fielding percentage and seven negative defensive runs saved above average.

This offseason, the Mets changed management, with David Stearns taking over as the President of Baseball Operations.

Stearns made plenty of moves this offseason to acquire veteran talent that could help the Mets win in 2024 but could also be flipped at the deadline to continue rejuvenating the farm system.

One move, however, raised more questions than any other, but it worked out early this season.

Harrison Bader is proving Stearns right

The Mets signed Harrison Bader to a one-year contract worth $10.5 million this past offseason to take over as the everyday center fielder from Nimmo, shifting the Wyoming native to left field.

Bader struggled to stay healthy in 2023, appearing in 98 games between the New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds, slashing .232/.274/.348 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs.

The 29-year-old has bounced back in 2024, staying healthy thus far and continuing his defensive wizardry in center field with four total fielding runs above average.

Bader has also been impressive at the plate, as through 46 plate appearances, the New York native has slashed .304/.333/.326 with zero home runs and seven RBIs.He has also been incredibly clutch. 

On Sunday, Bader had an infield single to drive in Pete Alonso, breaking the scoreless deadlock in the bottom of the eighth and as the Mets ultimately claimed a 2-1 victory.

The following day, again in the bottom of the eight, Bader came up clutch, this time driving a 106.1 MPH double down the left field line to plate a pair as the Mets completed the 6-3 comeback victory.

The season is still young, but so far, Bader has proven Stearns’ decision to displace Nimmo was the correct one.

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