New York Mets: Pillar One-Year Deal Official, Heredia DFA’d

New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar

On Sunday, the New York Mets officially signed Kevin Pillar to a one-year, $5 million deal as he becomes their final outfield depth piece. Guillermo Heredia was designated for assignment to make room for Pillar on the 40-man roster.

Pillar’s great defensive years in center field are behind him, but he is still valuable in the corners. Over the last two seasons, center field is the only spot where his DRS is negative. Pillar joins an outfield crew that already features Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Albert Almora Jr.¬†

Pillar vs. Almora

The combination of Pillar and Almora is very beneficial to the roster. Heredia and Almora are very similar players, and one of them needed to be upgraded from being the “latest version of Juan Lagares.” As defensive subs, Pillar would go to left field while Almora will play center field. Pillar has 79 games in left while Almora only has 11.

While Almora adds defensive value, he brings nothing offensively and is not a speed threat. Pillar is coming off his two best offensive seasons and was a major threat against left-handed pitching in 2020. He slashed .342/.390/.579 and has always produced better against lefties in his career. Pillar also averages 16 stolen bases per season and is in the 73rd percentile for sprint speed.

Heredia will likely remain with the Mets unless other teams are pressing for another depth outfielder. In 2020, he batted .212 with two home runs and five runs batted in over 15 games.

 

 

New York Mets: No Universal DH in Agreed Health and Safety Protocols

The New York Mets desperately needed the universal designated hitter for the 2021 season but will not get their wish. Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on health and safety protocols for 2021, including 7-inning doubleheaders and a runner starting on second during extra innings.

MLB did not want the universal DH and felt it was not important towards COVID-19 safety like the other rule changes. For the Union to get the DH, they have to agree on an expanded postseason. Ironically, playing extra innings is a health risk but asking players to add more games to the postseason is perfectly fine. This ongoing chess match between Rob Manfred and Tony Clark is a competition between two people in well over their heads.

Will The Rules Stay?

Anyone against the extra-inning or doubleheader changes can hope they do not remain past 2021. It will not be easy to agree upon a new collective bargaining agreement before 2022. The future Zoom meeting will feature arguments on these topics, along with much more. There is good reason to assume the two controversial rules are just for the pandemic. The universal DH is a higher priority to the Union than playing fewer doubleheader innings or shortening extra-inning games.

The Mets suffer the most without the universal DH as they are stuck with Brandon Nimmo’s defense in center field. Unless Nimmo is traded before spring training, Jackie Bradley Jr. is off their radar. In a perfect world, Bradley plays center, Nimmo in left, Dominic Smith plays first, and Pete Alonso becomes the DH.

Signing Albert Almora Jr. meant the Mets saw this as the likely outcome. Bradley would be an expensive fourth outfielder with a multi-year deal. Almora gives the Mets flexibility, a bat for left-handed pitching, and a defensive replacement.

Since each position is at least two players deep, the Mets seem finished with adding position players through free agency. They may add a free agent pitcher (Jake Arrieta/Rich Hill), but their next position player move is likely through trade.

New York Mets: Jackie Bradley Jr. Still Remains as an Option

When the New York Mets signed Albert Almora Jr., many thought they were done adding outfielders to their roster this offseason. Jackie Bradley Jr. is still a viable option despite the designated hitter looming as baseball’s million-dollar question.

If Bradley is still on the market when/if the DH comes to the NL, the Mets should focus on signing him immediately. Bradley becomes an impossible signing without a DH because there will be too many players for three outfield spots.

MLB says the 2021 season will not have a universal DH, but the players union wants it. Pitchers are getting paid unprecedented amounts of money, and front offices need them protected at all costs. The union and MLB are at an impasse because the players do not want to trade an expanded postseason to get the universal DH.

Get The DH

The Mets would benefit from a universal DH more than any other team in the NL. It automatically improves their offense, but it makes their defense a strength for the first time in years. Bradley is not an offensive star, but his center field defense is stronger than anything else he could provide for the Mets.

The Mets signed Almora to be their fourth outfielder and play against left-handed pitching. Signing Almora to his deal leaves the Mets with more options to upgrade either third base or get another starter. Their next big move seems like a trade more than a free agent signing. With Kris Bryant consistently rumored to be traded at any point, he looks like a strong candidate for the Mets to bring in.

New York Mets: Is Albert Almora Jr. Worth Signing For Center Field?

Simeon Woods-Richardson

Albert Almora Jr. is another center fielder who is reportedly on the New York Mets’ radar. The former Chicago Cub is coming off two poor offensive seasons while his first three were decent. Almora is low on the list of free-agent center field options but is certainly worth looking at if George Springer is out of the picture.

Almora’s slashed .289/.326/.412 and had 11 defensive runs saved over his first three seasons as a center fielder. He is hitting just .230/.270/.366 with -5 defensive runs saved in his two most recent seasons. Almora hit a career-high 12 home runs in that period, but the added power forced his average to suffer.

Worth A Shot?

When taking the rest of Almora’s defensive stats into perspective, the DFS is an outlier. His outfield reactions and bursts were similar to his best defensive year in 2018. The only regression came in his ability to go back on the ball, but it leveled out during 2020. Almora is only 27 on opening day, and all signs point to his defensive returning as a strong part of his game.

The offensive side of his game is a much bigger question. Almora has multiple years of being at the bottom of the league in hard-hit rates, among other key offensive analytics. The only way the Mets should consider him if multiple free agents like Springer, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Kevin Pillar are no longer available. If the Mets stayed within the organization, Guillermo Heredia could play at the same level as Almora.