With the 2017 season winding down, most fans have an eye for 2018. The Mets have a list of problems to fix. Some of it might just be fixed with luck (see: Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto) but some issues like third base will need to be seriously addressed.
Another position worth discussing is the Mets outfield. The Mets have two stars at the position but both are coming off serious injuries while they continue to search for a center fielder. One solution that should seriously be considered is Juan Lagares.
In just 181 plate appearances, Lagares has accumulated a 1.5 bWAR. For a little perspective, Curtis Granderson has a 1.7 bWAR in 459 trips to the plate this season. WAR can have its flaws like all stats but it does paint a good picture of how much value Lagares adds with his glove.
A quick primer for those who do not know what WAR is, WAR stands for wins above replacement. A replacement level player would have a 0 WAR and would not provide any wins to help his team. A team full of replacement level players would theoretically be 44-118. So a three win player would make the team 47-115 and so on. It will be used a lot in this article so here’s an idea of what it is for those who do not look at it.
Part of the reason Lagares only has 181 plate appearances is due to the fact he was injured again. The outfielder has had some sort of injury every year from 2014 through this current one. The Mets should get a quality safety net for him and the other outfielders by bringing back Curtis Granderson on a one-year pact. Granderson is always healthy and can play all three outfield spots. Of course, Granderson would need to accept a fourth outfielder role but he’s just an idea for a quality backup outfield option.
There are surely other players to consider like Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo has a .407 OBP in 2017 and this is just my opinion, but anyone who posts a .407 OBP in a sample size that is larger that 100 plate appearances is someone who should be held on to.
Lagares certainly does not add value with his bat. He is just hitting .263/.306/.380 with a 83 wRC+. Despite all those flaws in his offensive game, he still provides exceptional value to his team.
It is tough to extrapolate a stat like WAR but his defense is on 2013 levels of greatness. His DRS over 135 games is 42, in 2013 that number was 41. He was valued at a 3.7 bWAR with a similarly poor offense that year in just 421 plate appearances. Lagares could always improve on offense if he plays consistently, almost like Flores. In 2014, Lagares hit .281/.321/.382 and posted a 5.5 bWAR that year thanks to his glove.
For all the holes on the current roster, Sandy Alderson and the Mets have their work cut out for them. One solution might be staring them right in the face and it might be a relatively cheap option. Lagares provides value to the Mets as long as he is healthy and on the field.
The 28-year-old could be a very serviceable center fielder. The Mets can focus their resources on other positions while also building a defense behind a gold glove center fielder and potential gold glove shortstop, Amed Rosario.