The Mets are at least toying with the idea of moving Amed Rosario to center field, writes Tim Healey of Newsday. Rosario’s 2019 struggles at shortstop have been well-documented and the club has a noticeable opening in center field, with Brandon Nimmo sidelined indefinitely and Juan Lagares struggling mightily as his replacement.
Whether you prefer traditional or advanced metrics, the message on Rosario has been clear: this year, he has been a negative at shortstop. His 11 errors are tied for the most in the National League, and he has accumulated -13 DRS, the worst mark among qualified shortstops.
For his part, Rosario has said that he is open to such a move, per Healey. Though he hasn’t played the position in his professional career, it’s not uncommon for middle infielders to transition to center field. The Diamondbacks’ Ketel Marte, a former shortstop, is one such example, with Dee Gordon of the Mariners setting a less promising precedent.
As a prospect, Rosario was touted for his quickness, hands, and footwork at short, all of which were indicators that he had the ingredients to stay at the position in the long-term. Of course, no one is saying that Rosario is a lost cause yet—he’s still just 23 years old and there’s no reason to believe the tools that made him a top prospect have suddenly vanished. Quality shortstops are hard to find, so there’s no doubt that the Mets would like Rosario to prove himself worthy of the starting job.
At the same time, though, if the organization is intent on contending in the near future, it may be in its best interests to give the youngster a chance in center field, another premium, up-the-middle position. The new position would allow Rosario to provide value to his club without putting too much pressure on his bat—with a career .685 OPS, Rosario hasn’t shown that his offense is enough to carry his profile.
The Mets have already experimented with several infielders getting outfield reps: Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith have all received extended looks in corner outfield spots, providing versatility that manager Mickey Callaway asserts has “made us a better team.” Indeed, the aforementioned trio have all provided valuable offensive production, with Davis and Smith receiving regular playing time despite not starting everyday, which can be attributed in part to their ability to play a couple of spots in the event of injuries or resting starters.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Mets will follow through with such a move, and playing center field likely wouldn’t preclude Rosario from seeing time at shortstop moving forward. However, the current circumstances make it seem that now is as good a time as ever to challenge a talented young player in hopes that a position change could unlock a defensive breakthrough for a former top prospect.
To be sure, in the event that Rosario makes the switch, the Mets will need someone to take over for him as the everyday shortstop, which is no small task. Adeiny Hechavarria is perhaps the most likely replacement, with Luis Guillorme bearing mention as well, though neither has played well enough to force Callaway’s hand. Notably, the Mets’ farm system features a promising shortstop, Andres Gimenez, ranked as its number one prospect. However, he is still just 20 years old and has posted mediocre numbers at Double-A Binghamton. Certainly, it’s a situation worth monitoring as the Mets’ frustrating season continues.