Mets Bolster Offense with a Trio of Movesby Jordan Leandre November 28, 2021 1 comment
On Friday, the New York Mets signed utility infielder Eduardo Escobar, and outfielders Mark Canha and Starling Marte in the span of a few hours. The former two signed two-year contracts, while Marte inked a four-year deal coming off one of the best seasons of his career. It was apparent that the Mets would be in the market for offense this winter after a 27th-place finish in runs scored in 2021. On top of that, they were 25th in slugging percentage (.391), 25th in home runs (176), and tied for 19th in wRC+ with runners in scoring position (95).
Injuries bit the Mets significantly hard in 2021 as well, but the offense was the true Achilles heel for the Mets. Combined, their three newest acquisitions drove in 206 runs (32.3 percent of the Mets’ total runs scored), slugged .439, and had a 132 wRC+ with runners in scoring position. But how does each player fit with the Mets lineup? Let’s take a look at them one-by-one.
Escobar began 2021 with the Arizona Diamondbacks before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers at the trade deadline. Overall, he slashed .253/.314/.472 with a wRC+ of 107. He also added 28 home runs, drove in 90 runs, and played slightly below-average defense in 2021. Thus leading to a two-year deal with the Mets worth 20 million dollars. He’s been a real ‘Steady Eddie’––no pun intended––since 2018, as his wRC+ in that span is only two points lower than this past season.
Escobar offers versatility to the Mets infield, with an ability to play third base, second base, and perhaps some shortstop––though that’s his worst infield position. He’s a run producer with the ability to leave the ballpark. While Escobar isn’t the same level of a hitter as Pete Alonso, he deserves to be in a spot he can drive in runs from. To do that, he should slot behind someone that gets on base at a high clip. Someone like Jeff McNeil and the second player the Mets signed on Friday.
Canha is fresh off his fourth-straight season with a 115 wRC+ or better. As a result, he got a two-year deal worth 26.5 million dollars. However, his wRC+ has dropped from 146 to 127 to 115 the past three seasons. One can conclude that it’s largely because of playing in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, but Canha slugged nearly .600 at home as recent as 2019. Regardless of the potential decline, the 32-year-old has a knack for drawing walks that should render him useful in a lineup that was 18th in walk rate last season.
Since 2019, Canha has an OBP of .377 and a walk rate of 13.3 percent. In 2021, he was in the 91st percentile in chase rate (20.7 percent), In addition to being in the 87th percentile for walk rate (12.3 percent). For lack of a better term, he’s a professional hitter. While he won’t lead the league in home runs, he’s going to play above-average defense (three outs above average since 2019, four in right field) and get on base. He and Escobar should slot fifth and seventh in the Mets lineup, setting the Mets up for more offense after Francisco Lindor and Alonso.
Landing the biggest deal of the day for the Mets was Marte, signing a four-year, 78 million dollar pact. Marte will be joining his fifth team in four years but remains a consistent source of offensive production. 2021 was a career year for the 33-year-old, as he posted bests in wRC+ (134), fWAR (5.5), OBP (.383), walk rate (8.2 percent) and tied his career-high with 47 stolen bases.
To expect Marte to repeat that level of production from ages 33 to 36 would be unrealistic. However, his track record suggests he’ll still be productive regardless. As for where he slots in with the Mets? Someone of his talent and speed should be in the top two spots in the lineup. Moreover, he’ll likely be the team’s center fielder, even though his best defensive position is left field (third all-time with 71 defensive runs saved).
Projected Mets Opening Day lineup
This lineup is much deeper than that of 2021, so they can get creative. However, perhaps their most balanced lineup is as follows.
* – assuming MLB establishes a universal DH.
Independent of contributions from other bench players, here’s how these 11 match up with last year’s Mets offense.
’21 | Proj. ’22
wRC+: 96 | 110
wOBA: .307 | .329
BB Percentage: 8.5 | 9.2
K Percentage: 23.8 | 21.0
SB: 54 | 86
SB Percentage: 67.5 | 82.7
The Mets prioritized offense on their first flurry of free agents. Making significant strides to restore a winning atmosphere to Queens in the process. Only time will tell if it works out, but it looks a lot better on paper already.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images