The Mets have an extremely crowded outfield in 2017.
Yoenis Cespedes was signed to a four-year deal to be the Mets’ everyday left fielder. The Cespedes signing leaves only two positions to many potential everyday outfielders.
Granderson looks to be the favorite to get most of the time in center field. Although he has experience in center field with the Tigers and the Yankees, Granderson will be 36 years old by opening day. Granderson also has one of the worst outfield arms in the major leagues. Granderson can only be expected to be a mediocre center fielder, at best.
Mets executives have also said Jay Bruce will be the team’s right fielder (assuming no trade before opening day).
Many fans believe Michael Conforto is the odd man out. However, Juan Lagares may actually be the true forgotten man.
Juan Lagares is widely known as an elite defender. However, many consider his hitting too inadequate for Lagares to play every day. Lagares’ 2015 and 2016 campaigns proved to be a disappointment, however, it is widely known he was playing hurt. In 2014 Lagares had a 5.5 WAR while hitting .280 and netting a gold glove.
By comparison, in Jay Bruce’s best season of his 9-year career, 2013, he had a WAR of 3.4. Bruce finished 10th for the MVP that year although he is considered a defensive liability.
Juan Lagares’ defense is also especially valuable given the Mets’ starting rotation. The Mets consist of hard-throwing pitchers who net fly balls. A gold-glove caliber center fielder will take away some the few hits the rotation will give up.
The Mets are also a historically low-scoring team. A defensive center fielder will help keep opponents off the scoreboard. Jay Bruce is only signed for 2017 while Lagares is signed until 2019. Lagares is a piece of the Mets’ future while Bruce is getting ready to hit free agency.
Lagares may be the true forgotten man as the Mets are currently using a strategy that emphasizes offense over defense.