Through 51 seasons, the New York Mets have rarely had a long-term center fielder that they could build the rest of the team around. Tommie Agee (1968-1972), Lee Mazzilli (1977-1981), Mookie Wilson (1980-1989), Lenny Dykstra (1985-1989) and Carlos Beltran (2005-2010; played right field exclusively in 2011) have been the exceptions.
After Beltran's knee injuries caught up with him, Angel Pagan became the Mets' center fielder in part of 2010 and all of 2011. However, in this past offseason, Pagan got traded to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. Torres was expected to continue the recent success he had with the Giants, but his performance has made that trade seem rather lopsided in the Giants' favor.
Torres was a revelation in 2009 and 2010, batting .270 and .268 in those years, respectively. He even hit 16 home runs, drove in 63 RBI and stole 26 bases in 2010 to help the Giants win the World Series. Unfortunately, his 2011 season featured a .221 average, four home runs and 19 RBI which prompted the Giants to find an upgrade at center field.
Torres has not done any better this year. He's batting .221 with just two home runs and 33 RBI. His season has been plagued with injuries and he has been hitting poorly against right-handed pitching all season. His .175 average against right-handed pitching has been much worse than his .292 average against left-handed pitching. Furthermore, his speed has not been particularly good with just 11 stolen bases on a Mets team that completely lacks speed.
Torres will be eligible for arbitration this offseason, but will almost certainly get non-tendered thanks to his age (34), injury concerns and ineffectiveness at the plate. As a result, the Mets will need to find a new center fielder for the 2013 season. Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker are two options within the Mets' organization, but if the Mets can sign a proven free agent, that would be even better.
Here are five free agent center fielders that the Mets could consider signing.