Yasiel Puig May Be Perfect Fit For Mets
Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen has said one of the areas the team is going to look to address this offseason is center field, and the team would prefer to obtain a right-handed hitting center fielder. Looking at the free agent market, that player doesn’t exist, and with the Pittsburgh Pirates purportedly not willing to trade Starling Marte, that player may not exist on the trade market either.
So with poor options on the free agent and trade market, and the Mets being unwilling to move Rosario to center, the Mets are in a position where they need to “think creative” like they always preach. Of course, that is code for finding a cheaper option.
For starters, let’s assume Brandon Nimmo can play center. At a 28.5 ft/sec sprint speed, he was faster than Juan Lagares, Kevin Pillar, and Lorenzo Cain. Nimmo also had a -0.7 JUMP, which was the same as Pillar and better than Ketel Marte. All in all, Nimmo has the ability to play a good center, and with better positioning, he could be a positive defender.
That leaves Michael Conforto to play left field or right field. In terms of right, he showed himself to be a good right fielder, he is arguably better in left field. Certainly, having Conforto in his natural left would allow the Mets to play Nimmo in center. Having a very good right fielder would make Nimmo in center all the more viable.
From a defensive standpoint, Yasiel Puig is arguably the best defensive player available. That is not the only thing which would make Puig an enticing option for the Mets.
According to most reports, Puig is going to accept a one year deal to rebuild his value. On that front, his 1.3 WAR as the lowest it’s been since 2016. He didn’t pull the ball as much, hit the ball in the air more frequently, and his HR/FB rate dropped. His 0 DRS was the worst of his career.
Despite all of that, Puig is still in the prime years of his career, and his metrics look much like the player Puig has always been. Notably, his sprint speed and JUMP were on par with the last few seasons putting him where he was when he was a Gold Glove finalist in 2017.
According to Baseball Savant, he was above his career averages in hard hit percentage and exit velocity last year. He would also make some improvements in terms of his walk and strikeout rates. Putting it all together, even though the results weren’t quite where they had been the two previous years, it appeared Puig was the same player he has always been. For some reason, the numbers just weren’t there.
Realistically speaking, in 2019, Puig can be the roughly 3-4 win player he had been in his last few years before being traded from the Dodgers. You could also make the case he is a player born to play on the big stage, and there is no bigger stage than New York.
You could also surmise playing in a larger ballpark like Citi Field could have him return to his approach with the Dodgers which had led to him being more successful than when he was trying to hit more homers in the bandbox than is the Great American Ballpark. Then again, the danger for any team interested in him is the Dodgers were able to get the most out of him because they are so far beyond any other team in terms of analytics. Put another way, we saw the type of player Puig is without a smart front office putting him in the best position to succeed.
The best case scenario is Puig could be the team’s next Yoenis Cespedes. With them both hailing from Cuba and their having similar reputations, this at least seems plausible. The worst case is he’s a disappointing player who is still an upgrade over what the Mets already have.
For a team like the Mets who are operating on a shoestring budget and need players who could well outperform their contracts to contend, Puig is exactly the type of player they should acquire. If nothing else, he should help the Mets defensively, which should also be a boon to their pitching staff. All told, for a team looking to improve in center, they are likely going to need to sign a right fielder to do it.