The New York Mets have not had a true center fielder since Juan Lagares played 125 games in 2019. Brandon Nimmo has been the replacement to this point but has not been the kind of center fielder the Mets need in order to win a championship. With Michael Conforto now entering free agency, the Mets have a very interesting decision on their hands. The Mets can either re-sign Michael Conforto, keeping him in his primary position of right field, or let Conforto walk and pivot to finding a true center fielder instead. In doing so, the Mets could move Brandon Nimmo back to his natural position in the corner outfield, as opposed to center. So as the Mets, what do you do? Well, the decision may not be as hard as it seems.
The Case for Keeping Conforto
Since being called up in 2015, Conforto has a career slash line of .255/.356/.468 and an OPS+ of 124. Conforto has been rock solid at the plate since being called up and even has an All-Star selection to boot. Couple that with above-average defense, and Michael Conforto seems like a lock to be a cornerstone in this organization. However, Brandon Nimmo just may be the better option.
The Case for Keeping Nimmo
Nimmo’s career slash line is better than Conforto’s, with Nimmo having a line of .266/.393/.445 with an OPS+ of 133. Nimmo has also had an OBP over .400 in three of the last four seasons. That type of production at the top of the lineup is immeasurable, especially for a team like the Mets, who struggled so mightily to get big hits with runners in scoring position last season. Nimmo has also played a solid center field, even though he is not a true centerfielder. The only problem with Nimmo becoming a key piece of this Mets team is his injury history. Since being called up in 2016, Nimmo has missed time almost every season with an injury: something that can not happen to a team’s starting center fielder and lead-off hitter in the hunt for a championship. However, when Nimmo has played, he has been a more productive, and important piece to the Mets lineup than Conforto, or almost anybody else.
Though Michael Conforto has been a cog in the Mets lineup for the last seven seasons, his time in Queens is looking as though it has come to an end. As tough of a pill as this is for Mets fans to swallow, Michael Conforto should not and can not be the reason that Brandon Nimmo loses his job with the Mets. With his contract expiring at the end of the 2022 season, the Mets would be foolish to not resign Brandon Nimmo to a long-term extension, especially considering Nimmo has made it public that he is open to an extension with the team. In the meantime, look for the Mets to be active in the center field market this offseason, whether that is through free agency, or even trades.
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