Brett Baty Should Be Opening Day Third Baseman
Back in 2019, the New York Mets had Pete Alonso begin the season on the Opening Day roster. The idea was he gave the team their best chance to win games, and they thought keeping him in the minors for two weeks could cost them the postseason. Essentially, one year of service time was not worth missing out on the postseason.
Of course, now, we know that was all part of the grift. The Wilpons knew they were going to be forced to sell, so they had Brodie Van Wagenen set out to completely mortgage the future to try to win that one year. That included starting Alonso in the majors and not caring about that extra year of control. The irony would be the Wilpons limited budget and cheapness ultimately did cost them the postseason as they didn’t have the money to address the bullpen.
While the plan was flawed from its inception with the Wilpons, it is a plan that has merit with a real owner like Steve Cohen. To wit, the Mets should look to eschew service time concerns and control, and they should have Brett Baty being the 2023 season on the Opening Day roster.
That is at least the general consensus from the scouting community. Keith Law of The Athletic says Baty has nothing to learn in the minors and is the Mets best third base option. Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline says Baty should be the third baseman in 2023 because he is an improvement defensively over Eduardo Escobar with a better offensive ceiling.
While Mets fans were understandably not impressed with Baty defensively in short sample size, Escobar has proven he can’t really play the position. He had a -6 OAA a year after he had a -3. As he’s 34 and with their being no shift in 2023, he is only going to get worse. The Mets did recognize that last season, and that is part of the reason why they moved him to a platoon with Luis Guillorme.
Guillorme has been previously addressed here. WIth the shift elimination rules and the limitations of Mark Canha, Guillorme should be the everyday second baseman. That would be the newly extended Jeff McNeil can move to left field where he has been historically move effective. It should also be less wear-and-tear on a player the Mets can have through his age 35 season.
Baty can at least be adequate defensively, which is a step up from Escobar. While the ground ball rates are a problem, he has real offensive potential. He needs to improve those ground ball rates. The hope there is Jeremy Barnes can do that. Even though Baty made significant strides on this front in Double-A last season, Barnes is still arguably the best person to get Baty to lift the ball and get the most out of his power.
What needs noting here is it may not happen right away with Baty. That is fine because the Mets still have the option to send him back down to Triple-A and shift to the Escboar/Guillorme platoon which was very effective last season. Better yet, he can begin to fulfill his promise and be that bat the Mets were hoping to find this offseason. The only way the Mets can find that out is by putting him on the Opening Day roster.