Shale B, a reader of MetsBlog:
I really think Juan Lagares has earned his spot as the everyday center fielder. However, there is Lucas Duda, Eric Young, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt den Dekker, Mike Baxter, Cesar Puello, Brandon Nimmo, and Jordany Valdespin, among others, to consider for future outfields. And then there are possible trades and free agent signings to consider, as well. Which current outfielders in the Mets system do you think are most likely to be traded this offseason? Also, among internal candidates, what is the most likely 2014, 2015 outfield?
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
The problem with your list is that, with Lagares and Young, and maybe den Dekker, the Mets need better, all-around, every-day players than these guys. Young is under contract and will almost certainly be back, likely as the fourth outfielder. He is a good player, and the front office seems to really like him, but he has struggled, which puts his status as an everyday bat in question. I like Lagares — his defense is incredible — but I still question whether he can hit enough in such a weak lineup. Sandy Alderson will need to acquire more production at other positions (than what he has) to justify all-glove, little-hit in multiple positions.
In the end, much like last year (and the year before that, and the year before that) Alderson has got to step up this winter and acquire better baseball players to fill starting roles. I had doubts the previous two off-seasons, but I do think it will happen this winter, because he has so much money coming off his payroll. Yes, his budget will be the same — probably around $100 million — but he’ll have plenty of dollars available to acquire more productive talent.
I still expect them to sign one or two mid-tier free agents (who do not cost them draft picks), while working hard to trade for a meaningful hitter that can play outfield. I can also see a world where they part with the draft pick and sign Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo, because they meet so many of Sandy’s needs, but I can’t tell if that’s my own wishful thinking or reality…
Best-case scenario: Lagares, with Young off the bench, a free-agent in right or left (say, Curtis Granderson, Coco Crisp) and a trade acquisition in left or right (say, Carlos Gonzalez from the Rockies).
More-likely scenario: Lagares or den Dekker with Young, and a mix-and-match collection of Jason Kubel- or David DeJesus-types to platoon with Duda, Nieuwenhuis and others.
Andrew Wharton, Contributor
You can’t build today’s team around tomorrow’s players. I like Nimmo, but he’s years away still. I did like Puello, but his link to PEDs scare me. Unless you’re offered a good package for him, you move forward with Lagares as your centerfielder until someone forces you to reconsider. So, to answer the questions: 1) I think Duda and Valdespin are the most likely to be traded, and 2) On that list, only Lagares makes my 2015 outfield, unless Puello produces while clean in 2014.
Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
I see Young, den Dekker, and Baxter most likely to be in the mix for bench roles next year. Puello and Nimmo are still works in progress and plans for 2014 shouldn’t depend on them. I’d like to see one top-tier, free-agent signing and one second-tier signing or trade to fill out the outfield, which would probably cover them for 2015 as well, depending on how Lagares holds up over a whole season. But with so many questions remaining for 2014, it’s tough to make too many serious predictions beyond that.