At this moment, it appears Scott Hairston is the best outfielder in the Mets' system. He is hitting .261/.301/.513 with an fWAR of 1.1 in 239 PA. His career splits are .246/.303/.446 and he is 32 years old. So A) he seems to be playing well over his head; and B) he isn't signed past this year; and C) he is old enough not to be part of the future in any case.
The next best OF option currently in the majors appears to be Jordany Valdespin. At 24, he is hitting .274/.300/.538 while walking in 1.8% of his PA and striking out in 18%. In AAA, his walk rate was a stellar 4.9% earlier this season and 3.5% last year. The power number (7 HR in 111 PA) appear a bit skewed by sample size also - he had just 7 HR in 256 PA in AAA between the last 2 seasons. He does appear young and athletic enough to have upside and perhaps grow into a semi-decent major league OF (or 2B).
Then we come to Andres Torres, who is hitting .231/.348/.315 on the season and has career splits of .242/.322/.391. By the way, if you take out the one outlier season he had in 2010, his career splits are .228/.308/.344 and he has just 12 HR and 44 steals in 351 career games played. He does seem to have marginal value as a platoon against lefties, hitting .294/.423/.412 against them this year while hitting .191/296/.252 against righties. At 34 years old, he would not figure to be part of the Mets' future.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, 25 years old next week, is hitting .180/.286/.230 against lefties and .271/.324/.416 against righties and so might seem to be, in the short run at least, the other side of the CF platoon with Torres. Given his minor league numbers, this would seem to be his upside - the lefty half of a platoon.
Lucas Duda, 26 years old, struggled mightily this year, hitting .241/.335/.391. In his MLB career counting this year, he's hit .259/.342/.434 with 26 HR in 218 games played. Not much to say about Duda. I thought he'd hit enough to justify his other deficiencies, but he hasn't. At this point, he cannot be penciled into the Mets' future unless and until he starts hitting again, and/or gets more comfortable in the outfield.
Baxter, at 28, has hit .323/.392/.523 in 74 PA this season, with the .447 BABIP. Seems to project as a bench bat in a best-case scenario.
I don't want to spend a lot of time on Bay. Suffice it to say that platooning him doesn't seem to be an option at this point (.528 OPS vs lefties, .557 vs righties this year).
As depressing as all that is, the worst part is we have just one OF this side of Savannah who might legitimately see time in Queens in the next year or so in Den Dekker. Legares could work into the equation at some point, I suppose.
What are our options then? Free agency or trade, right? In CF, Bourn, Melky, Pagan, BJ Upton, Grady Sizemore and Cody Ross are free agents at year-end. LF free agents are Josh Hamilton, Juan Pierre and Delmon Young, RF options are Berkman, Ichiro and Swisher among others.
Bourn's 3-year average splits are .282/.347/.371 with 2 HR and 58 steals coming into this year, where he's hitting .294/.348/.432 with 8 HR and 28 steals. He'll be 30 in December.
Melky hit .305/.339/.470 last year and his hitting .353/.393/.520 this year with 10 HR and 11 SB. Career, he's hit .284/.338/.413. He'll be 28 in a couple weeks.
Angel's 3-year average is .285/.337/.422 with 8 HR and 28 steals. This year he's hitting .277/.322/.395 with 5 HR and 17 steals (projected for 8 and 27 on the season).
BJ Upton is 28 in August. His 3-year average is .241/.323/.408 with 17 HR and 40 steals. This year he's hitting .247/.309/.380 with 9 HR and 18 steals.
Sizemore turns 30 this week, hasn't played yet this year and hasn't been relevant in baseball since 2009 when he hit .247/.343/.445 with 18 HR and 13 steals. Was probably always overrated.
Ross turns 32 in December. His 3-year average is .262/.323/.429 with 17 HR and 6 steals. This year he's hitting .260/.331/.523 on a pace for 25 HR and 1 steal.
I'm not going to talk more about Hamilton as he's not a realistic option in any way shape or form.
Pierre turns 35 next month. His 3-year average is .284/.342/.338 with 42 steals and this year he's hitting .306/.346/.373 with 23 steals.
Delmon Young turns 27 in September. His 3-year average is .284/.316/.441 with 15 HR, 79 RBI and 3 steals. This year he's hitting .267/.297/.401 with 11 HR and 42 RBI.
Berkman turns 37 in February and seemed on his way out of baseball (OPS went from .986 in '08 to .907 in '09 to .718 in '10) before last year's rebound (.959 OPS). This year, .893 OPS in 71 at bats.
Ichiro looks done.
Swisher is 32 in November. 3-year average is .266/.368/.485 with 27 HR and 85 RBI. Hasn't hit fewer than 21 HR in his career.
I should love to see the Mets discuss retirement / trade options with Mr. Bay. Torres doesn't need to be back next year. Nieuwenhuis could be back as part of a platoon. Duda could be back if he figures out where he left his game. I'd love to see the Mets find a taker for Hairston, whose trade value may never be higher than right now. Get whatever you can for him.
I would love to see the Mets trade from their surplus of infielders (Murphy, Lutz, Satin, Flores) and acquire a really good outfielder. Justin Upton comes to mind, though a package of Murphy and Flores would probably have to include Familia, Mejia or another minor league pitcher with upside. Plug Valdespin in at 2B and you've solved two positions. Cheaper options like Juan Pierre, Swisher and/or Cody Ross would seem to fit the Mets' budget until lower system guys like Nimmo and (????) are ready to move up.