Much of the talk around the New York Mets and their offseason has been centered around nabbing a centerfielder. They missed out on George Springer, deemed Jackie Bradley Jr. out of range, and are prepared to go to war this season with Brandon Nimmo.
However, the Mets did just make a move to sure up their future at the position.
In a trade that happened in a couple of stages, tweets began to go out talking about a trade between the Kansas City Royals and the Boston Red Sox for Andrew Benintendi. Then a few minutes later it appeared that the Mets would be involved.
Little by little more info came out and then Jeff Passan tweeted what would be the overall core of the trade.
The Mets sent minor league pitcher Josh Winckowski (acquired in Steven Matz trade) to the Red Sox. There will also be another prospect player to be named later and cash considerations. The Mets would get Khalil Lee.
So with that out of the way, who is Khalil Lee? He was one of the most highly touted prospects in the Royals organization. According to Baseball-Reference, he’s ranked number 61 in all of baseball.
Overall, his numbers look ripe for potential. He’s got a ton of speed and has shown the ability to have some pop as well, albeit a few years back.
In 2017, at just 19-years-old, Lee had 17 home runs and 61 RBI to go along with a .344 OBP. In 2019, he hit eight home runs, 51 RBI, to go along with a .363 OBP, and 53 steals with only 12 times caught. Even in rookie ball he had a .396 OBP.
Lee’s batting average isn’t particularly high but his OBP in the minors is .366, over 100 points higher than his batting average. These numbers actually profile him in a similar light to Nimmo with the exception of Nimmo not figuring out how to swipe bags.
The young centerfielder even gets hit by pitches quite a bit in addition to taking his fair share of walks.
He has a strong arm too, recording 14 assists in 2017 and 12 in 2018. There aren’t any advanced metrics for his outfield play on Baseball-Reference but with that much speed coupled with that arm, he’s probably the Mets’ best option down the pipeline. Although, Tim Britton tweeted out that maybe he’s not the best suited for centerfield.
Lee will be turning 23 this season, it’s possible the Mets get him some at-bats this September if he performs well. He’s tracking to be in AAA and provides the team with much-needed depth.
So far reactions from Mets beat reporters and fans alike have been positive. The Mets basically just swooped in a grabbed a good prospect for “Steven Matz” essentially. Hopefully, swapping Lee with Winckowski won’t hurt the Mets. In 2016 and 17 he wasn’t very good, but he turned a corner in 2018 and 19. He did not pitch at all in 2020. Lee, on the other hand, played a partial season in Puerto Rico.
As of right now, the Mets outfield situation is a bit weird. The only sure thing is Michael Conforto in right field. As of right now, Nimmo is in center but there’s also Mallex Smith and Albert Almora. Left field could be Dom Smith, sometimes J.D. Davis or Jeff McNeil, or Nimmo shifting over.
Lee is a center fielder, so the Mets now have a backup plan for the chaotic outfield in their back pocket. Let’s just hope he pans out.
Mets fans, what do you think of the trade? Will we have Brandon Nimmo 2.0 or will we get something better or worse?