Mets Officially Sign Harrison Bader: 2024 Outlook
The Mets have officially signed Harrison Bader to a 1 Year - $10.5 million contract. This is a great move by David Stearns and could potentially have a larger impact than many could imagine. Bader has been a perennial elite defensive center fielder dating back to 2018. The bat may have a lot of question marks, but one thing is for sure: his speed and his defensive value will always show up. Additionally, Bader is actually very good against left-handed pitchers. He has a career 121 wRC+ against LHPs and ran up a 153 wRC+ against lefties in 2023 in 97 plate appearances.
Bader will start against LHPs in 2024 and allow Nimmo to move presumably to the right field to take some weight off his shoulders. Marte has been the Mets, right fielder when healthy, in large part due to his strong arm. However, moving Nimmo away from center field to diminish the physical toll on his body just to move him to left field, a farther run from the Mets dugout would seem a bit counterproductive. Mookie Betts spoke about running to and from the outfield and how much that can have an affect on an athlete’s body. This was an important reason for Betts wanting to move back to the infield in 2023. With this in mind, it makes the most sense for Nimmo to move to right field and Marte to left field.
Bader is a New York kid, a positive clubhouse presence, and is very good friends with Pete Alonso, dating back to their days as teammates at the University of Florida. There is the underlying elephant in the room, suggesting that this is possibly a chess move by Stearns and Cohen to help resign Pete Alonso. Bader is only on a one-year deal, but resigning him for a second year is definitely a possibility. If Bader is an involved factor in Pete's re-signing, the $10.5 million he gets paid is automatically worth it. His performance on the field should be worth the contract, regardless.
It is also worth noting that the Mets are not really competing for any specific luxury tax tier in 2024. They are going to be in the same tax bracket as 2023 due to retained salaries of over $65 million from various trades last season. Since they have to spend this offseason to remain competitive in 2024, they will remain with one of the highest (if not the highest) payrolls in the MLB. Bader, making $10.5 million in 2024 on a one-year deal, has basically no risk sign he will be off the books next year when payroll will matter more.
Bader is a great role player who is part of Stearns’ attempt to make the team faster, more dynamic, and better defensively. Low-risk high-reward signing for the Mets.