New York Mets’ skipper Mickey Callaway recently told Newsday‘s Anthony Rieber that he plans to use Michael Conforto “exclusively” in right field this coming season, even upon the still-unclear return of Yoenis Céspedes.
“Man, he looks great out there,” Callaway said of Conforto. “We had in the back of our mind when we made this decision Cespedes may return at some point… and we don’t have to move Conforto over or whatever. It just made a lot of sense to us.”
Conforto, 26, has managed 208.1 career innings in right to this point, holding up a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage while compiling a respectable three defensive runs saved in that time. He spent the bulk of last season shifting between center and left fields – the latter of which has been his natural position since college.
Keeping the Oregon State product away from center field, and likewise Brandon Nimmo from right, will certainly benefit the Mets in the long run. Conforto’s -4.0 UZR in center ranked sixth from the bottom among big-league center fielders (minimum 500 innings), while Nimmo’s -3.1 ARM rating came in as the sixth-worst as well.
Looking forward, the Opening Day spot in left field now appears most likely to be occupied by a combination of Nimmo and Jeff McNeil – depending on the health of Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie as well as the share of reps Callaway will be willing to offer Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton in center field.