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Mets Center Field Solution Could Be Andres Gimenez

The last few years there has been discussions about how Andres Gimenez needs to move off of shortstop due to the presence of Amed Rosario. The natural choice was second base, but with the Mets obtaining Robinson Cano, that position is blocked for the next four years.

Early this year, it seemed there was going to be a potential opening at shortstop with Rosario struggling there for the second straight year. It got to the point where he began taking balls in center. However, with Rosario turning things around in the second half both offensively and defensively, he seems cemented as the team’s shortstop for the future. As a result, the plans for him in center have likely been abandoned.

While the plans of moving Rosario to center have been abandoned, the plans of moving a shortstop to center should not be.

Right now, the Mets have two very real problems. First, they have zero Major League ready prospects which will begin the year in Double-A or higher. Second, with Rosario establishing himself as a real Major League shortstop and with Luis Guillorme showing he’s a real option as Major League infield depth, there’s no room for Gimenez in the middle infield over the long term.

With no room for him in the infield, and with the team needing outfielders, the solution seems obvious. That’s only obvious if Gimenez could actually play the outfield. Based upon his skill-set, he should be able to make that transition.

Baseball America calls Gimenez “a quick-twitch athlete with well-rounded skills, a high baseball IQ and leadership qualities” who has a “quick first step.” MLB Pipeline notes Gimenez has a “strong arm, excellent hands, range and plus instincts for the position.” While this was written for him being a shortstop prospect, these are the type of skills you want out of a center field prospect.

As an aside, we saw Juan Lagares make the same transition from shortstop to center when he was a prospect. In 2011, Baseball America said he was best suited in left field due to his fringy speed and below-average arm. The following year, the analysis was updated to indicate he had ” the average range, sure hands and plus arm strength required to play all three outfield posts.” As we know he would become a Gold Glover at the position.

This is not to say Baseball America was wrong at the time on Lagares. Rather, it shows the more a player works at a position the better they get. We saw that with Lagares developing into a Gold Glover. We saw that with Rosario figuring things out at short in the second half this year.

If Gimenez has a real future in the Mets organization, he is going to have to find a new position, and he is going to have to put in the time to improve at it like Lagares and Rosario did with theirs. That position was supposed to be short or second, but he’s hopelessly blocked there.

However, center field is wide open for him. Moving Gimenez to center allows the Mets to help solve their center field depth issues while also solving the problem of finding a spot for their sole Major League ready position player prospect. When you break it down, the question isn’t whether the Mets should try this, but why haven’t they done this already.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was previously published on MMN.

8 thoughts on “Mets Center Field Solution Could Be Andres Gimenez”

  1. LongTimefan1 says:

    With Jeff McNeil the heir apparent at third, might be prudent to turn Gimenez into a Jeff McNeil type, infield/outfield versatile, super utility.

    As Gimeenz gets stronger and grows into his body,, and his swing path and mechanics improve as it is, he should hit for better power just as Mcneil has.

    Gimenez has 55/80 speed which is a little above average, similar to McNeil and Conforto, but a significant foot per second slower than Nimmo.

    MLB average foot speed is 27.0 feet per second.

    According to Statcast, McNeil averages 27.2 feet per second.

    Conforto, 27.5

    Lagares, 28.0

    Nimmo, 28.5

    Rosario, 29.2.

    https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/sprint_speed_leaderboard?year=2019&position=&team=NYM&min=10

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I think super utility is a fall back and not a Plan A. That said, I think Gimenez could become just that by moving to the OF on Triple-A

    2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

      @LTF good research. At some point I’ll try to translate that into how many more balls each incrementally faster guy would get to in CF, everything else being equal. –interesting that Rosario’s speed doesn’t translate into much added value wrt SB/CS.

      I remember doing back of the envelope calculations to figure out what Lagares’ speed and skill on defense at his peak would translate into at the plate. I converted all the balls in play, all the hits he took away from opponents versus the performance of a league average CFer, and turned them into hits for Lagares as a batter–turns out that Lagares was essentially Wade Boggs at the plate when you added all the singles and doubles he took away on defense to his batting line. That’s how good he was. That’s how valuable elite defense is, and how undervalued it still often is. And imagine what that hypothetical guy would make at his peak in FA, a league average CFer on defense, who hit like Boggs.

  2. LongTimeFan1 says:

    In this day and age, super utility is incredibly important, not just mere bench role but someone who could play nearly every day moving around the field. Jeff McNeil has demonstrated excellence in that role and nearly won a batting title while doing so.

    The Gimenez era probably won’t begin in earnest till 2021 even if debuts in 2020.

    At that point, we should have good idea what our infield and outfield looks like after Cespedes and what futures Nimmo, Conforto, Davis, Smith, and Rosario have or don’t with Mets.

    We’ll have better handle on Cano – whether he starts, platoons, comes off bench or becomes defensively versatile. And whether McNeil is fixture at third, plays second, or returns to outfield full time or moves around.

    At that point, Gimenez’s role will be clearer. If he’s the best defensive SS we have, Rosario could be candidate to move to CF particularly with his speed.

    If Nimmo is still a Met next season, he’s our presumptive starting CF and has a year to continue to grow defensively.

    i agree Mets should prepare Gimenez in 2020 in Bingo /Syracuse for every option, including all over outfield and even third. Doing so must not however reduce his skill at SS and 2nd.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Part of the reason I looked at CF was he’ll never play 2B or SS for the Mets, and he doesn’t have the bat for 3B.

    2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

      “The last few years there has been discussions about how Andres Gimenez needs to move off of shortstop due to the presence of Amed Rosario. The natural choice was second base, but with the Mets obtaining Robinson Cano, that position is blocked for the next four years.”

      —Even the Mets will cut Cano before then if he continues to fall off the cliff but, yeah, expect them to tolerate his poor play for at least a couple more years, and in order not to look foolish if this replacement level performance continues they’ll keep him for the full four as long as Cano can still fake it. They kept Jason Bay around for three years of his deal and Bay actually gave more value in each of his first 2 seasons with the Mets than Cano did in 2019. It was only when Bay fell completely off the cliff in his third year that the Mets dropped him.

      Giminez’s agent would be a fool not to push for alternative to continuing exclusively at SS, but keep in mind that Giminez after his weak 2019 in AA is probably at least two full years from the majors (so May 2022 at the earliest), and Rosario is a FA after 2023, with an arb salary in 2023 (and probably 2022) that the Mets would prefer not to pay.

      I’d bet the Mets FO doesn’t see this as a problem. If Giminez gets back on track at SS they can deal Rosario in the 2021-22 offseason for shiny stuff and plug Giminez into SS to start the 2021 season, while by the start of 2022 Cano (going into his age 39 season–is there even one position player his age who is still productive?) is probably going to be at least 3/4 of the way out the door. At worst, from the FO’s point of view, Giminez comes up near the start of 2022 and is the MI sub, who fills in and eases Cano out the door at 2B. Gimme still needs to learn to hit at the upper levels, and he’s a long way away.

      But sure, try him in CF. It can’t hurt, and it’s not like not playing the MI for the first 2 months of 2020 is going to hurt him any.

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        Btw, it’s worth noting that versatility only helps a team with an 8th man in the pen worth carrying, and the Mets haven’t had that kind of depth in Ever. The value you get from the 8th man has to outweigh the value you get from carrying a 5th guy on the bench, and that’s not the case for this team as currently constructed–their 8th men out of the pen have an ERA averaging well over 5.00. Those are guys you want to keep OFF the mound, not on.

        With McNeil on hand, too, bench versatility is less important. You can have that versatility in the starting lineup, or on the bench. It’s not really critical to have it in both places. There are also very, very few guys who can pull it off–I think the most recent study on it showed that all of 6 players in MLB played more than 10 games at 3 or more positions, never mind productively. Just that they could do it at all. Baseball is much more difficult than most people think.

        For now the 2020 Mets have Davis, Smith, Guillorme, and Nido on the bench. They desperately need a spare OFer to play CF on the bench, and unless they can trade one of the first two for equal value, it wouldn’t make sense to add a Billy Hamilton or Keon Broxton v.2020, and send one of Davis or Smith (assuming options) to the minors in order to get an 8th man in the bullpen. A 5-man bench and a 7-man pen is probably the way to go most of the time for the 2020 Mets.

      2. metsdaddy says:

        There’s zero chance Cano is cut with that salary and with his relationship with the GM.

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