Everyone expected the Mets to pivot to Jackie Bradley Jr. after not signing George Springer. Well, they got a Junior. But not the one mentioned above.
Once Springer signed, JBJ was the top option in the free agent market at center field. Some reports said that JBJ was looking for a long term (say, 3-4 years) deal at significant money. Most agents representing that player would do the same thing. For the Mets, JBJ probably exceeded their price range for the return they would get. I for one was worried that JBJ would get one of those reactionary contracts that wouldn’t age well. So, on to Albert Almora Jr.
The Mets signed Almora to a deal which keeps him at team control through the next two seasons with a minor league option left. In terms of a defensive center fielder, he’s as good as anybody. At this point, he probably plays against lefties (OPS is about 50 points higher vs. LHP in his career), and is a late inning defensive replacement the rest of the way. Offensively, Almora has been a mixed bag, with one defining point of demarkation.
From 2016-18, Almora produced splits of .289/.326/.412. In 2019, he started the season at .259/.302/.438 through May 29th. That was the night where Almora was involved in a terrible accident where a foul ball hit a little girl in the stands in Houston. Since then, Almora took a sharp downturn, hitting .215/.242/.328 the rest of the season. And 2020 was similarly horrible, hitting .167/.265/.200. While the rest of ’19 was definitely affected by the accident, 2020 could have been a combination of that and a whole host of other factors that only 2020 could provide. It’s all totally understandable.
As a Cubs fan friend of mine expressed to me, perhaps (he hopes, and we hope) a change of scenery will help in this regard and he could get his career back on track. With the talent that Almora has, it’s a good chance to take.