Mets outfielder Juan Lagares is headed to the DL and the surgeon’s room to address a partially torn thumb ligament, per a team announcement. ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin had reported the move was likely; fellow outfielder Brandon Nimmo will come up to take the open roster spot.
[Related: Updated Mets Depth Chart]
It is expected that Lagares will take six weeks to recover, though it’s not quite clear whether that is the best case for an MLB return or just the possible starting point for a rehab stint. Either way, it appears that the center fielder will miss a good chunk of the remainder of the season.
New York had been utilizing Yoenis Cespedes as its primary center fielder, with Lagares taking action against lefties and the slugger moving to left field. But the decision was made to back off on using the team’s best hitter up the middle, which has resulted in the sudden conversion of youngster Michael Conforto into a center fielder — where he’s scarcely played.
Alejandro De Aza does have plenty of experience up the middle, but most of it came a few years back and he has struggled in quite a limited role this year. It also doesn’t seem that the organization has much inclination to deploy aging right fielder Curtis Granderson in center, which he also used to play in his younger years.
As a result, New York may now find itself in the market for a center field-capable outfielder — most likely one that hits from the right side. Mike Puma of the New York Post reported earlier today (via Twitter) that the injury made the team somewhat more likely to go after such a player, though it won’t be the Mets’ primary deadline focus. We just took a look at the market center fielders, which does include several plausible rental pieces — as well as some bigger targets.