Mets’ Jackie Bradley Jr. pursuit may not be over: Sherman

More from:

Joel Sherman

Mets must have Jacob deGrom contract talk in Trevor Bauer aftermath: Sherman

Mets losing Trevor Bauer shows just how wide gap with Dodgers is: Sherman

The only contract Mets should offer Trevor Bauer: Sherman

Nolan Arenado trade is risky Cardinals power move: Sherman

Rockies can use Giancarlo Stanton model for Nolan Arenado trade: Sherman

The Mets have reached agreement with Albert Almora pending a physical, and it is possible that settles how they will approach center field this season, with the former Cub serving as a caddy for Brandon Nimmo.

But they have done so much background work on Jackie Bradley Jr. that I will continue to believe that if the designated hitter is adopted by the NL and Bradley remains a free agent at that time, the Mets will at least consider him.

In the last week, the Mets had an extended Zoom meeting with Bradley that included team president Sandy Alderson, acting GM Zack Scott, hitting coach Chili Davis and first base/outfield coach Tony Tarasco. Scott, in particular, knows Bradley well from their shared time working with the Red Sox.

The problem has been that Bradley never fully fit the Mets, as they are constructed without them being able to use a DH. His presence would have forced the Mets to decide every day who does not play among Bradley, Nimmo, Pete Alonso and Dom Smith.

At this moment, MLB is proceeding as if there will be no universal DH in 2021. But many team executives and agents think there can still be a last-second reversal, in part because the union wants it, but so do clubs as a way to further protect pitchers. MLB has been loathed to just relent and hand it to the union without getting reciprocation in some form. Their preference has been to trade it for expanded playoffs. The union has been firm that is not an exchange it would make.

If the NL were to adopt the DH, an argument could be made that no still available free agent would help the 2021 Mets more than Bradley because of a domino effect: Bradley is an elite defensive center fielder, he would move Nimmo from a below-average center fielder to an above-average left fielder, which would move Dom Smith from a below-average left fielder to an at least average first baseman and make Pete Alonso — an inferior first baseman to Smith — the DH.

That would improve the Mets offense by keeping all the bats in the lineup. But it would particularly help the pitching staff with far better defense. The Mets have been an abysmal defensive team the past few years. But if they ever were able to land Bradley in free agency or Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain in a trade (Cain is owed $35 million for the next two years), their up-the-middle alignment would go from Wilson Ramos, Robinson Cano, Amed Rosario and Nimmo to James McCann, Jeff McNeil, Francisco Lindor and Bradley/Cain. So from one of the worst to one of the best.

In theory, if the DH came to the NL, the Mets could try to sign Justin Turner to, say, play third base 110 games and DH 50. But that would not impact the defense nearly as much.

For now, the Mets are making a low-cost protection move with Almora. He essentially would fill the role Jake Marisnick had last year as the righty-swinging complement to Nimmo. Except Marisnick is better on both sides of the ball than Almora.

Now former Mets GM Jared Porter was the Cubs head of pro scouting in 2016, when Almora broke in, and there were beliefs he would turn into a two-way asset. But Almora is much like Juan Lagares. He had defense early and offensive promise. But the offense never came and now even the defense has regressed at least a grade.

Perhaps Almora starts against lefties, though he has hit just .212 vs. southpaws with a .533 OPS the past two seasons. He probably plays defense late, though among the 59 center fielders with the most attempts last year, Almora ranked 45th in outs above average. Nimmo, though, was 58th. Bradley was second.

Almora essentially checks a box — righty hitter who is better in center than Nimmo. So the Mets enlisted him to fill a role. Bradley is a much greater difference maker, which is why teams such as the Red Sox, Giants, Astros and a few others remain engaged. If the DH comes to the NL and Bradley remains available, the Mets should jump back in on him or try to trade for Cain.

Share this article:

Source: Read Full Article