The Mets have checked in on former Cubs outfielder Albert Almora this winter.
Albert Almora‘s time on the North Side came to a rather unceremonious end, with the Cubs non-tendering him along with Kyle Schwarber last month. It’s hardly the path the team envisioned for the former sixth overall pick, but after another dismal showing, the time had come.
To this point, mum’s been the word as far as potential Almora suitors go. At this point, he’s a fourth outfielder rather than a starter – at least for a contending team. To that end, the Mets, who have been widely viewed as the frontrunner for free agent superstar George Springer, have reportedly “looked at” Almora this winter.
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The obvious connection between New York and Almora is new Mets GM Jared Porter, who was part of the Theo Epstein regime early in Almora’s career. Back then, the defensive standout was widely viewed as the Cubs’ center fielder of the future – but declining offensive production, especially in the last two years, proved costly.
Never one to draw walks, Almora actually improved his walk rate in the shortened 2020 campaign to a career-best 8.8 percent. The flip side of the coin? His strikeout rate skyrocketed to a personal-worst 26.5 percent. With a .033 ISO, the Chicago outfielder showed literally no pop at the dish and with Ian Happ’s emergence, he quickly found himself relegated to a bench role.
Of course, now the Cubs face a dire situation in regards to the outfield mix. Happ and Jason Heyward are really the only proven big league commodities on the 40-man roster and the team still lacks a starting left fielder to replace Schwarber.
That doesn’t mean Almora would or should be an answer for Chicago, though. They’re clearly looking to go to a more contact-oriented approach offensively with a stronger focus on getting on base. To say Almora doesn’t fit that mold is a drastic understatement.
But with the team’s self-imposed financial constraints, it’s hard to envision the front office bringing in anyone of real quality to round out the outfield (or the roster, as a whole, for that matter). An Almora-type signing might be all the team is willing (or able) to pull off before players report to camp in Arizona next month.
If the Mets’ interest in Almora is real, so be it. He could make for a solid late-inning defensive replacement in tight ballgames. But if New York is in it to win it, the hard truth is Almora can’t be your starting center fielder.