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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.

One potential solution would be to put Amed Rosario in center, but the Mets seem reticent to do that even with Andres Gimenez not too far away from the majors.

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.

41 thoughts on “Yasiel Puig May Be Perfect Fit For Mets”

  1. Pal88 says:

    Oh great Puig and Cespedes…what could go wrong

  2. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Nimmo’s biggest problem defensively is flawed throwing mechanics, related footwork and body positioning. He’s made improvements but needs more. Am hopeful Beltran will be big help including teaching him the crow hop which I’ve never seen Nimmo do.

    Conforto also needs to improve his throwing mechanics.

    As for Puig, I like the talent and passion, and big time arm, athleticism, but am concerned he could become clubhouse issue on a roster with really good chemistry and unselfishness. Puig could be a cancer – or continue to mature via the good influence around him.

    There’s also Cespedes who could return in 2020 which would create corner outfield logjam of players who should start.

    One 4th outfield option is right hand hitting Cameron Maybin, a complementary signing as part time player if he’s willing to sign in that role. He had solid 2019.

  3. Longtimefan1 says:

    Just noticed that Maybin K’d a lot in 2019, so am rethinking him.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      As a 4th OF, I think Maybin is worth a gamble.

  4. Joseph P says:

    I would respectfully have to pass. Puig is a disrupting force. I would rather J.D. Davis, Cespedes (One crazy is enough), or a bag of baseballs. In that order. I wouldn’t want him on my team even for free. I would be afraid he would disrupt a good clubhouse.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Puig was so much of a disruptive force the Dodgers were in the postseason every year he was there.

    2. metsdaddy says:

      If that’s the case, were you against firing Callaway?

  5. Joe P says:

    I said respectfully disagree. Even though they made the playoffs he has been benched several times for disciplinary reasons. He is not someone I would want on my team.

  6. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    On a team with a glut of corner OFers (McNeil, Conforto, Nimmo, JD Davis, Dom Smith, and not inconceivably, Yoenis) the last thing the Mets need is a 29 year old (so, post-prime, not “still in the prime years of his career”) who has been average to below defensively for the last 2 years by nearly every metric (below by UZR, UZR 150, ErrR, RngR) and whose glove and bat betray a player who peaked a little earlier than the average.

    Compared with Mets corner OFers in 2019 Puig would also have been tied for 5th best hitter, with the badly injured Nimmo.

    Puig is not only not a perfect fit, he’s not even remotely any kind of fit at all.
    This is a team with little money to spend, and the Mets can already cobble together a platoon in LF from Dom and JD–a platoon that scored better by WAR than Puig did in 2019. They’re also not in their decline phases, as Puig is. Making those 2 strictly bench players reduces their value (in order to get a worse player into the lineup) in a year where the Mets can ill-afford to lessen the value of the contributing players they already do have on the 25-man roster.

    Perhaps distilling this down to “The Mets already have 5 or 6 corner OFers on their roster–should they get another?” would have steered you right.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Puig is not post his prime, and if he were on the Mets, he’d become their best defensive OF

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        He’d have the best arm and second best outfield speed.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          He’s extremely talented and loves the big stage.

  7. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Oldbackstop,

    Puig stole 19 this season, not 5.

    While I agree he comes with poor clubhous/behavioral e reputation which should hugely factor in determining his fit, it’s worth ascertaining to what degree he’s grown. .

    I also think he’s a very talented player on both sides of the ball who hasn’t reached his ceiling. At 29, he’s still plenty young.

    Given the projected corner outfield log jam in the 2020 Mets outfield, I agree there’s no spot for him, at least in 2020 even if he passed the behavior test in an emerging maturity. but if he became a Met, I think Belltran would have huge positive impact on him.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I don’t get how there’s a corner OF jam when Nimmo and Conforto are the only two everyday caliber outfielders, and Nimmo can play some center, especially between two good corner outfielders

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        Cespedes, Puig, Conforto, plus Nimmo if Mets acquire another CF.

        JD Davis and Dom Smith.

        McNeil when Lowrie or Davis plays third.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Davis and Smith aren’t outfielders, and you can’t count on Cespedes for anything

          1. LongTimeFan1 says:

            As long as Davis and Smith are Mets, they’re going to get playing time.

            Smith off the bench and occasional starts.

            In the case of Davis who had fine 2019, batting .307 with .895 OPS and 22 homers in 453 PA’s, he’ll get plenty playing time. He rakes.

            He also has the highest average Exit Velocity on the team at 91.5, MLB average is 88.7.

            As he’s already said, he’ll be working hard this offseason on his quickness and agility to be better outfielder. That effort probably raises his foot speed to MLB average, and with continued work, he’ll improve his jumps, routes, glove work, and throwing positioning. That training will speed him up out of the box, on the basepaths, and help him at third base.

            Speaking of which, Mets also believe that with the proper work at third, he could become central figure there and competently perform. If he plays third, McNeil’s back in outfield.

            The Mets have to consider Cespedes’s return. It’s November and he’s taking batting. practice on his own. Whether he returns in April, May, June, July is not known, but it’s clear that terrible break has healed and he’s well passed the healing from double heel surgery.

            Mets will also need to add another outfielder – a defensive CF who can also play the corners. That player could be acquired to start or play part time.

            And so, in the absence of trades, the Mets do indeed have a corner outfield logjam. Adding Puig adds to that. I’m not at all against adding Puig if his behavioral issues are finally under control and he’s team player, but there has to be spot for him even if Nimmo’s primary CF. At the present time, Mets are indeed looking for primary CF to move Nimmo to corner.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Davis can’t play third, and I HIGHLY doubt he can add the sort of speed he would need to add to even make him passable in the field.

            Add in the likely regression at the plate, and he’s no more than a bench bat.

            As for Cespedes, you can’t count on him for anything, especially when we saw Tulo’s 2019 season.

  8. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Davis can definitely add speed via the right kind of training just like Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso did.

    Alonso was a 30/80 runner, who worked hard last offseason to improve his foot speed to what averaged 26.5 ft/second in 2019.

    MLB average is 27.0.

    Michael Conforto was 40/80 and now averages 27.5. That improvement wasn’t by accident. He worked hard to become better trained and dynamic.

    Davis was 30/80 and averages 26.3 without any speed specific training.

    Geraldo Parra averaged same.

    Joc Pederson 26.2

    Nick Markakis, 26.1

    One of Davis’s stated offseason goals is getting faster.

    Given his drive and work ethic, as well as the science, there’s no reason he couldn’t raise his speed to big league average or close to that with similar speed as Charlie Blackmon, Odubel Herrera, Josh Reddick, Alex Dickerson, Reyes, Franmil who average 26.6 and 26.7.

    https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/sprint_speed_leaderboard

    As for Davis at the plate, he rakes, a product of smarts, approach, preparation, swing, discipline, strength and mechanics. That he hit like he did in 2019, is not particularly surprising. He’s a very cerebral guy, a student of hitting with a minor league track record who works on his craft searching for ways to improve.

    The next step in his development is defense and improved speed, quickness, and agility.

    Regarding Cespedes, he is in the picture and Mets have to construct the roster with that in mind whether or not he plays in 2020. And that plan includes built in depth and mix and match.

    If Nimmo’s the CF and is flanked by Conforto in left and Puig, in right, Cespedes’s return to left would have major impact on both corners.

    There’s no evidence the Mets are looking to sign or trade for corner outfielder. But there’s lots of evidence they’re seeking CF including Brodie saying so.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I’m sorry, but I don’t see Davis being able to add the type of speed necessary to be even passable in left. When you combine that with his lack of natural defensive instincts in the outfield as well as the likely regression at the plate, he cannot be anything more than a utility player.

      In fact, if the Mets were smart, they’d sell high on him.

  9. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Oldbackstop –

    That was great article on Davis, one I hadn’t read. Thanks for linking. I’ve read other articles on Davis’s prep and mentality, have listened to some first person interviews and comments by teammates, front office, managers, coaches on Mets and Houston.

    Hpuston was so happy to sign him after the draft, they held a formal press conference introducing him. I watched that video several months ago. Their comments were spot on.

    What’s not to like about JD? The guy’s in love with the game, eats and sleeps it, plays with passion, is team player, loves the orange and blue, recognizes weaknesses and strives to improve. He says if he doesn’t dirty his uniform, he feels he could have contributed more. He also has a cannon, and I think there’s more there to unlock through better footwork and upper and lower body timing, arm action and mechanics which should differ for the outfield and infield.

    His stated mission this offseason is to get quicker, faster and more agile, to improve defensively. It’s going to take some time, but I think Davis could become 4-tool player with average foot speed and mental make up that’s off the charts.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      In terms of drive and likeability, there’s a lot to like about David.

      In terms of defense and ability to repeat historically unrepeatable stats, not so much.

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