Home Illustration MLB Free Agency: Mets Financial Flex on Black Friday

MLB Free Agency: Mets Financial Flex on Black Friday

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With the merry-go-round of GM contenders and the team’s general inactivity, the Mets’ offseason trajectory hadn’t turned in the right direction until Thanksgiving weekend. Within hours, however, the team drastically altered the course of their immediate future with a flurry of Friday night moves that cost more than $ 120 million in guaranteed money.

The Mets added a trio of hitters – infielder Eduardo Escobar and outfielder Mark Canha and Starling Marte – in quick succession, hitting quickly under new general manager Billy Eppler to overhaul the team’s offense. Beyond the group in which these additions took place, perhaps the most striking aspect of the movements is that they seem so … pragmatic?

This is a franchise whose dysfunction and at times outright buffoonery has spawned its own adjective – “Metsiness” – to illustrate its tendency to stand in its own way. But by adding three quality, if not the creme de la creme, free agents who are receiving high praise for their presence in the clubhouse, New York has quickly instilled a degree of skill and stability that will go a long way in raising the level of the clubhouse. franchise. in the years to come and could be a catalyst for a rapid recovery after a disappointing 2021.

Mark Canha (20) and Starling Marte (2) shared the Oakland outfield in the second half of the 2021 season, and both head to Queens now after signing with the Mets.

First, a look at the players that have been acquired. Marte is the most impactful (and expensive) of the bunch. A two-time Gold Glove award winner at the start of his season at the age of 33, he led the majors with 47 goals stolen last season and set career highs in wRC + (134), percentage based (0.383) and walk rate (8.8%) while splitting time between Miami and Oakland. Giving a 33-year-old center fielder a four-year contract is a risky proposition, but Marte remains strong enough defensively to stay in the post for the immediate future, and his offensive profile, especially taking into account a stick eye. improved -is one who may age well. Marte undoubtedly had other teams after him, and accepting a fourth year could have been a deciding factor for the Mets to land him.

Canha, another former A outfielder who starts his season at the age of 33, has been among the most underrated hitters in recent seasons. He’s produced 0.249 / 0.366 / 0.441 over the past four seasons and is strong defensively. He, Marte and Brandon Nimmo should form a formidable defense in the grass.

Aside from a miserable, pandemic shortened 2020 campaign, Escobar has been an above average regular since 2017, with at least 21 home runs in each unabridged season. His ability to play any position except the shortstop in the infield gives New York some flexibility going forward as they are going to have to make tough decisions about a few of them. their titular players.

The trio’s arrival in Queens makes things more difficult for Jeff McNeil, JD Davis and Dominic Smith, whose paths to playtime are now bleaker. Even though the Mets aren’t adding more pieces, there’s no clear path to regular batting appearances for any of them. Having too many skilled hitters is a good problem for a team that scored the fourth fewest points in major tournaments last season.

These additions can help prevent club run as well as offense. The Mets had defensive players who frequently played out of position last season, with McNeil and Smith frequently occupying the outfield. Although he’s been a primary third baseman throughout his career, Davis is not strong defensively, and Escobar should represent an improvement in the hot corner.

These defensive upgrades should help attract more pitchers, which the Mets sure are still aiming to do. The team would prioritize Kevin Gausman, as well as Jon Gray after missing Steven Matz (much to owner Steve Cohen’s chagrin).

The offseason is still in its early stages, but with this trio of acquisitions, the Mets have now spent $ 124.5 million on major league free agents, while the rest of the National League East has spent $ 8 million combined, which all went to new Braves wide receiver Manny Piña. The defending champions are surely the team to beat in division in 2022, but they are not without big question marks this winter.

And it’s not like Atlanta has a stranglehold on the East all season long, quite the contrary, in fact. The NL East, as a whole, was perhaps the most disappointing and least formidable in the league. By being aggressive in the free agency market, the Mets have positioned themselves to be the club best equipped to give the Braves a run for their money. Considering the need for depth in several positions, the decision to add Marte, Canha and Escobar for the money it probably would have taken to sign someone like Kris Bryant seems like a wise move.

New York still has a lot of needs, and these movements come not without their fair share of risks. But the Mets went from appearing as a rudderless, captainless ship to a team with some semblance of a plan over Black Friday. Considering how the second half of the season fell apart like a house of cards, that’s enough progress.

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