While most MLB fans celebrate the elimination of the Houston Astros from postseason contention, the beginning of their offseason adds yet another dimension to what is expected to be a busy and intricate winter for the New York Mets.
Astros center fielder George Springer’s contract is officially up and he’ll hit the free-agent market as one of the most-coveted offensive talents and center fielders available on the market.
That immediately puts him on the Mets’ radar, which holds a lot more malice compared to years past with the impending arrival of new majority owner, Steve Cohen, who is expected — unlike the Wilpon family — to spend when needed to improve his team.
Amongst the Mets’ list of glaring needs this offseason is acquiring a true, natural center fielder, along with bullpen help, at least another starting pitcher, and a catcher.
Certainly a lot to address over just one winter, and it’s already been communicated to amNewYork Metro that Cohen won’t spend with reckless abandon.
But the Mets have a glutton of corner outfielders that simply cannot provide the same kind of stability that Springer could add in center field.
Brandon Nimmo, a natural left fielder, has played more games in the majors in center field where his defense has been suspect.
Most noticeably is his inability to take the optimal routes to balls in play, which has been a liability at times.
In his 147 career games in center field, Nimmo has a defensive runs saved (DRS) mark of -14. Meanwhile, Springer’s career DRS is at 14.
Springer’s offensive output would bring an obvious upgrade to the Mets, as well.
Even after the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal came to light after the 2019 season, Springer had a productive 2020, slashing .265/.359/.540 with an .899 OPS in 51 games along with a full-season average (he was on pace to play 137 of 162 games) of 37 home runs and 85 RBI.
Questions will naturally come with a pursuit of Springer, though.
At 31 years old, there will be a limited number of years remaining in which he can effectively be a reliable center fielder before slowing down. That immediately warrants the question of if the Mets should shell out over $20 million annually for maybe two to four years of Springer playing at his natural position.
Given his offensive production, though, that is something that could be overlooked as he would provide another sizable boost to a Mets offense that still carries the potential of being a dangerous unit.