Defense has been a stated priority for New York Mets’ President of Baseball Operations David Stearns and the majority of the club’s offseason moves have been geared towards run prevention. Stearns made another move to address the Mets’ outfield defense today as the team has signed outfielder Harrison Bader to a one-year deal. SNY’s Andy Martino was the first to report the deal while Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reporting that Bader will get $10.5 million from the Mets in 2024.
Bader, who will turn 30 next season, hit .232 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs in 98 games for the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds last season. While the offensive numbers were rough and undoubtedly impacted by injuries, Bader still brought premier defense to the table, ranking nine outs above average defensively in center field.
Defense has been Bader’s calling card throughout his career and he won a Gold Glove in 2021 when he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals but he notably hit five home runs in nine postseason games for the Yankees in 2022 while also posting a .936 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2023, an area where the Mets were notably deficient.
The addition of Bader likely completes the Mets’ outfield group as he projects to be a frequent starter alongside Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte. Tyrone Taylor, who the Mets acquired in a trade with Milwaukee alongside starting pitcher Adrian Houser, and D.J. Stewart appear to be the primary backups with Jeff McNeil capable of going out to a corner spot if needed. When Bader plays he will likely start in center field, pushing Nimmo over to left in a move that would significantly strengthen the team’s outfield defense.
The move is a solid one for the Mets, who got a one-year commitment for Bader with as much potential upside as longer deals for either Kevin Kiermaier or Michael A. Taylor would generate. The next question will be whether the Mets are finished adding on offense, which would mean they are comfortable using some combination of D.J. Stewart and Mark Vientos as the primary designated hitter, or if they want to add a proven veteran for that role on a one-year deal. The Mets have been linked to both J.D. Martinez and Justin Turner so far this offseason with both being good fits to serve as a DH and bat fifth behind Pete Alonso.