Both the Yankees and Mets are in dire need of a true centerfielder, and free agent Starling Marte seems like the perfect fit for either club.
New York’s teams have been linked to Marte in contract negotiations, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, but so too have the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies and the Miami Marlins, the latter of whom traded the centerfielder at the July 31 trade deadline to the Oakland Athletics for prospects. In fact, as many as a half-dozen MLB clubs might be in a bidding war for Marte’s services, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
The two-time Gold Glove winner had perhaps his best offensive season in 2021 while splitting time with the Marlins and Athletics. The 32-year-old Marte hit for a .310 batting average with a modest 12 home runs and 57 RBI, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of how productive he was at the plate.
Marte’s .383 on-base percentage demonstrates great discipline in the batter’s box. He raked 27 doubles and also led the league with 47 stolen bases, getting caught just nine times all season. That high level of production helped him score 89 runs during the season.
For the Bombers, Marte seems like the perfect fit to replace Brett Gardner, who parted ways with the pinstripes soon after the season ended, and the oft-injured Aaron Hicks. Putting Marte at the top of a stacked lineup of power hitters such as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton would only further energize one of baseball’s most potent offenses.
As for the Mets, they’ve been looking to upgrade their centerfield position beyond Brandon Nimmo, who’s more suited for a corner outfield spot. Adding Marte would enable them to shift Nimmo to left field, giving them a natural number-two hitter ahead of Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso, with the hope of boosting production for a notoriously streaky lineup.
In his walk year last season, Marte made $12.5 million, and he figures to double that salary for an extended contract in free agency, possibly between four and five years in length. But unlike recent offseasons, in which some of the best free agents waited months before landing a deal, the bidding war for Marte could be more of a sprint than a marathon — as MLB’s collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association expires on Dec. 1, and a possible work stoppage looms.
Whoever acts the fastest, at this point, will have the upper hand in landing one of the best available centerfielders in the market today.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said he has “some latitude” toward increasing the Yankee payroll. Things are still in flux for the Mets as they seek a general manager, but in the interim, team president Sandy Alderson can tap into owner Steve Cohen’s vast resources to pick up the players he needs.