Mets Should Move Canha Over Escobar
Based upon Carlos Correa‘s Instagram and comments, we are back to feeling good about him signing with the New York Mets. At least according to Correa, it’s a fait accompli, and we should treat it as such while further inquiring what is next for the New York Mets.
Reports are the Mets will look to move Eduardo Escobar once the deal is completed with Correa. To a certain extent, you understand the thinking. Correa replaces Escobar as the everyday third baseman leaving Escobar as the odd man out. However, that ignores Jeff McNeil‘s versatility.
As we saw last year, McNeil was very good at second, left, and right. Over the course of his career, McNeil hits and generally plays better when he is in the outfield. Of course, to move him out there on a more regular basis, the Mets would have to displace Mark Canha. As a result, signing Correa is really a debate of Canha and Escobar.
To get the first part out of the way, while Steve Cohen has shown he doesn’t care about the money, Canha is the more expensive player. He is owed $11.5 million in 2023 with a $2 million buyout of his $11.5 million option for 2024. Escobar is owed $9.5 million with a $500,000 buyout of his $9 million 2024 option. With the 90% Cohen tax, the $2 million difference between their salaries is $3.8 million on the Mets books irrespective of the buyouts.
However, it is more than just the cost savings. Escobar is a better fit for this Mets roster.
First and foremost, Escobar provides more versatility. He has played second and third over the last few seasons, and that provides for insurance in the event of a Correa or McNeil injury. Remember, both players have some durability issues, and we may see a point where both are on the IL or banged up at the same time necessitating playing Escobar and Luis Guillorme.
Another factor is the Mets are very left-handed in certain spots, especially at DH where Daniel Vogelbach is solely a platoon option there. For his career, Escobar is a 109 wRC+ against left-handed pitching with a 133 wRC+ last season. On that, he seemed to settle in well platooning third base with Guillorme, and he does promise to do that with Vogelbach next season.
On the contrary, Canha has a 110 wRC+ against left-handed pitching and a 115 last season. These are certainly not bad numbers, but they are not at the level of Escobar last season. Another note is Escobar has far more power in his bat providing an element to the lineup the Mets need which Canha really does not supply.
At their ages, both players are in decline off their primes with Canha in steeper decline seeing his hard hit rates and defense continue to drop in a steady fashion. Escobar is fighting off Father Time a bit better while being a hair faster on the field.
More important than any of that is neither Canha or Escobar can really play everyday right now. Based on what we saw in 2022, Escobar can more easily slot into a part-time role. After all, he did it effectively last season, and when they needed to call upon him to play everyday again, he was able to answer that call. We still don’t know if Canha can do that.
Whoever the Mets opt to keep, they are going to have to become more versatile. Escobar is already that, and ideally, the Mets will have him working out and learning first to spell Pete Alonso. It would also behoove him to learn to play left for the first time since 2017. As for Canha, he has played third in a pinch, but he has been predominantly an outfielder since 2017.
In the end, the Mets have to ask themselves two questions. First, who can better complement this roster? Second, who will net us a better return? Ultimately, the answer to these questions will dictate which of these two are moved more than anything else.