The New York Mets are reportedly interested in free-agent center fielder Albert Almora Jr., per SNY’s Andy Martino, which provides a sliver of insight into what the organization could be planning for the rest of the offseason.
It’s been a whirlwind of a winter already for an organization that has often spent this time of year in hibernation. The arrival of Steve Cohen as team owner was followed by the signings of reliever Trevor May and James McCann before the blockbuster trade for star shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco.
While it’s been an active offseason, the Mets still aren’t complete, as has been pointed out by team president Sandy Alderson. General manager Jared Porter reiterated that the focus following the Lindor deal is finding more depth — both on the mound and in the field — and up the middle, suggesting that center field needs to be addressed.
Considering the nature of the Mets’ new ferocity on the market, the big-fish mentality has continuously linked them to top free-agent prize George Springer, who Alderson said the team is still “loosely engaged with.”
So he’s still very much a possibility.
The 31-year-old, however, is going to command a heavy price tag and for a Mets team that has between $25 million and $30 million remaining in luxury tax space, his price tag could be too great even for Cohen and Co. considering what’s left to do.
The Mets are still in the market for a lower-end arm in the rotation and a left-handed reliever. They were on hand to watch two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber workout while Liam Hendriks’ deal with the Chicago White Sox might have inflated the market for reliever Brad Hand over the Mets’ price.
They also need to build their stable of natural outfielders within their ranks; only three — Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Guillermo Heredia — were developed in the outfield.
Then comes the question of extending both Lindor and Conforto before they hit free agency after the 2021 season.
Signing them both would likely put the Mets over the luxury tax threshold seeing as Lindor will make somewhere around $30 million annually while Conforto’s average annual number could be over $20 million.
On top of that, the team will also have to try and retain the likes of Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman, who are also free agents next winter.
Almora would cost pennies on the dollar compared to Springer while providing the Mets with plus defense in center field. The problem is that his bat isn’t much to write home about with a career slash line of .271/.309/.398 in five years with the Chicago Cubs.
Potentially, it’s a necessary sacrifice to make to lay the foundation for a sustainable future for the club.