The Mets announced to reporters, including Tim Healey of Newsday, that outfielder Starling Marte underwent surgery on Tuesday to address a core muscle injury he sustained in the second half of 2022. He is expected to be “without restriction” by Spring Training and Mike Puma of the New York Post relays that the standard recovery time is about eight weeks. Deesha Thosar of Fox Sports relays that this is related to a groin injury he sustained in June.
Signed in the offseason to a four-year, $78MM deal, Marte’s first year as a Met resulted in another strong season at the plate. He hit .292/.347/.468 for a wRC+ of 136, indicating he was 36% better than the league average hitter. The injury didn’t seem to hamper him much, as Marte’s month-to-month numbers were fairly steady until September, when a finger fracture limited him to just five games.
It doesn’t seem as though the Mets have reason to be terribly concerned about Marte going forward, given the timeline. Eight weeks from now would be around the time the calendar flips to 2023, giving Marte plenty of time to ramp up physical activities prior to the beginning of Spring Training in February.
Nonetheless, it is a situation worth monitoring given the outfield picture of the Mets. Incumbent center fielder Brandon Nimmo is a few days away from becoming a free agent, creating an opening up the middle. Some have wondered whether Marte could simply slide over to fill that gap, given his previous center field experience.
General manager Billy Eppler recently spoke on the subject, saying that the Mets are willing to play Marte up the middle. However, that path is not without risk. Marte is now 34 years old and a year removed from regular playing time in center, having spent most of 2022 in right. The year before, the advanced defensive metrics weren’t exactly wowed by his work in center, as he was pegged with a -4 by Defensive Runs Saved, 0.9 by Ultimate Zone Rating and zero Outs Above Average.
Perhaps it will end up being a moot point, since the Mets are reportedly making it a priority to retain Nimmo. Though if Marte’s progress is at all delayed, it might only increase the club’s desire to bring Nimmo back and keep Marte in right field.