As the New York Mets search for outfielders this season, one of the names that’s bound to come up in rumors as one of their top targets is current Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. While Ellsbury seems like a good fit and an obvious upgrade for the Mets’ outfield, they actually don’t need him.
If there’s one thing the Mets have an excess of in their outfield, it’s players that can play center field and provide quality defense. With the way Juan Lagares has played defensively, not only is he worthy of winning a Gold Glove this year, but he could be the Mets’ center fielder for many years to come.
The Mets also have Matt den Dekker, who is equally as impressive as Lagares defensively. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has major league experience and has proven he can handle center field, and even Eric Young Jr. could play center field if called upon. There’s no way that Ellsbury could provide a significant upgrade defensively over what the Mets already have in center field, which drastically reduces their need to go after him this offseason.
The Mets could move Ellsbury to a corner outfield spot if they were to sign him, and while that could help give the Mets an exceptional defensive outfield, what they really need in a corner outfielder is power.
Despite hitting 32 home runs in 2011, Ellsbury shouldn’t be considered a power hitter and isn’t likely to replicate that home run total any time soon. The Mets would be lucky to get a double-digit home run total out of Ellsbury next season or any season after that, and that’s not going to be enough for them.
Despite a WAR over five this season and a strong track record when he’s been healthy, Ellsbury is not a good fit for the Mets. Rumors this offseason may indicate that he’s a strong candidate to be signed as a free agent, but it would not be the right move for the Mets to make — they don’t need him.