Regardless, it’s imperative New York adds an outfielder this winter. After Jay Bruce was traded, and with Yoenis Cespedes set to miss a significant amount of the 2019 season, the Mets are left with Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo as their outfielders.
Beyond that, there isn’t much depth in the Mets system, and you can’t risk one of them getting hurt and then thrusting Kevin Kaczmarski into an everyday role.
That probably won’t happen, as the Mets will likely add an outfielder. So I’d like to talk about five outfielders who could be useful to them. Let’s talk first about a former superstar, who is now a serviceable piece.
The last calendar year, I imagine, has been a weird one for Andrew McCutchen. He was first traded from the team he came up with, the Pittsburgh Pirates, to the San Francisco Giants and then again to the New York Yankees.
Through 155 games between the Giants and the Bombers, McCutchen appeared in 155 games, and hit .255/.368/.424 with 20 homers and 65 RBI. This was paired with a 120 wRC+ and .347 wOBA.
In the field, he spent most of his time in right field, where he was worth two defensive runs saved (DRS) and had an ultimate zone range (UZR) of -0.4.
He also logged 90.0 innings in left field, and while he didn’t log a single inning in central in 2018, he has played there a whole bunch in his past.
McCutchen would give the Mets a right-handed bat, and has been a beacon of health throughout his career. Best case scenario, Lagares, Nimmo and Conforto all stay healthy and he gets time as a fourth outfielder who plays a decent amount as a substitute.
Michael Brantley, like A.J. Pollock, is terrific when he’s healthy, but over the last couple years has also had a hard time staying healthy.
In 2018, though, he was healthy throughout the season and was great. He played in 143 games and hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 homers and 76 RBI to go along with a 124 wRC+ and a .359 wOBA.
In the field, he played exclusively in left field, and was worth -3 DRS with a 0.5 UZR.
Brantley is another left-handed bat, which the Mets are heavy loaded with, but an appealing aspect of Brantley is that he is willing to play first base this upcoming season.
I know that Mets’ GM Brodie Van Wagenen said he foresees top prospect Peter Alonso being the Opening Day first baseman, but by doing so, it would eliminate an extra year of team control.
Brantley, to begin the year, could play third base and then when Alonso comes up, would give the Mets a solid offensive outfielder.
One of the fastest men, if not the fastest in baseball, Billy Hamilton, was non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds earlier this month.
Hamilton, 28, never developed into a stud as his bat never rose to complement his speed, but he would still be a good fourth or fifth outfield option for the Mets regardless.
Since 2014, Hamilton has never played less than 114 games, and has the power to change the outcome of a ballgame late in the game due to his wheels.
While his 69 wRC+ and .277 wOBA leave much to be desired, he has swiped 277 bags since debuting in 2013. And that’s an area in which the Mets struggle.
Predominantly a center fielder, Hamilton registered 4 DRS and a 5.9 UZR in over 1,238 innings this year for the Reds.
He could be a good platoon option with Lagares in center, or could work as a late inning defensive replacement.
MetsMerized’s John Edwards wrote a piece on why the Mets should pursue Hamilton, which can be found here.
Marwin Gonzalez, who has been a key tool for the Houston Astros the last couple seasons, is hitting the open market this winter.
Gonzalez is an appealing player, because he plays all around the diamond.
He was worth 1.6 fWAR this past season, but in the Astros World Series season of 2017, logged a 4.0 fWAR.
Last year, he hit .247/.324/.409 with 16 homers and 68 RBI, to go along with a 104 wRC+ and a .318 wOBA.
A switch hitter and a super utility man, Gonzalez would give the Mets flexibility on both sides of the ball.
Yes, he’s another lefty, but Nick Markakis has been one of the most productive outfielders in baseball over the last few seasons, and really throughout his career.
A New York native, Markakis just finished up a four-year deal with the Atlanta Braves, that include his first trip to the All-Star game this past July.
In 2018, Markakis played in all 162 games, and hit .297/.366/.440 with 14 homers and 93 RBI.
Primarily a right-fielder, he played a little left field this year and has played a little first base in his career, albeit years and years ago.
Markakis would be a solid addition to the Mets, and could spell any of Lagares, Nimmo or Conforto when need be.
The outfield class this year isn’t super sexy, but does have some decent names.