The New York Mets have a number of offensive problems to start the season with nearly everyone struggling at one point. Singling out any single player is a big unfair, but like with what the Mets did with Eduardo Escobar, at some point, the team needs to know when to make a switch.
Right now, the Mets are getting into that position with Mark Canha.
Canha is a useful player on a Major League roster. He gives excellent at-bats, and he makes contact. He does find a way to get on base with a career 21.2% walk rate. He is a solid defender in left field, and he is a good base runner with some speed.
However, when you break it all down, we are seeing a 34 year old with diminishing skills. In some ways, he is the epitome of a Mets offense with has trouble generating power and scoring runs.
Per Baseball Savant, Canha is among the worst in generating hard contact at the plate, which is why his xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA are so low. He’s generating just 5.3% barrels per plate appearance. Keep in mind, that is not at all the worst on the Mets.
Last year, Canha got away with this same approach a bit for two reasons. First and foremost was his .309 BABIP. That was uncharacteristically high for him. He’s at .289 for his career, and with him at .262 this season, we are seeing a batter with a 96 wRC+ to begin the season.
Canha currently has a .690 OPS. Historically, he has a .741 over the first month of the season. Last season, he had a .792 OPS over the first month of the season. So far, he has not been the same hitter he was last season, which has been problematic.
Another reason Canha was so effective last season was the HBP. He’s been a pincushion his entire career, and he led the majors with 28 HBP last year. That was after leading the league with 27 the previous season. So far this year, he is “only” at two, which puts him on pace for roughly 12.
Now, the Mets could get away with this if Canha was an elite defender. He’s not. He was a -1 OAA last year. This season, he is at a 0 OAA while converting roughly the same percentage of plays he did last season.
Fact is, Jeff McNeil plays a better left field than Canha does right now. Looking at the roster, Luis Guillorme may hit for even less power than Canha, but he is a better defensive player (even if his -2 OAA at second is uncharacteristically low to start the year). The Mets also have the option of looking towards Ronny Mauricio at some point during the season.
Again, Canha has value. He can be the platoon option for Daniel Vogelbach. He can spell Pete Alonso at first. He can still play left field. The problem is he’s not hitting enough to remain as a regular in the lineup, and he doesn’t field well enough to carry a weaker bat.
By all accounts, the Mets can give him more time. Typically, May is really when he gets going in a season. He should get a couple of weeks at least, but at some point, if Canha still isn’t producing, he is going to have to sit for another player.
As usual, the New York Mets went to Milwaukee and forgot how to play baseball. It always happens:
1. Since 2016, the Mets are 3-18 at whatever they’re calling Miller Park now. It’s at the point where the 1986 Mets in their prime couldn’t beat a Milwaukee t-ball team if it is played in that ballpark.
2. The Mets lost a game 10-0 and the next one 9-0. That’s something the 1962 or 1993 Mets did. That should tell you how bad the series was.
4. Carrasco getting a pitch clock violation before he threw a pitch tells you how well he’s adapting to it.
5. Showalter saving Adam Ottavino for the Brewers best left-handed hitters and burning David Robertson before that is simply incompetent managing. Robertson is great against left-handed batters, and Ottavino got hit hard by them last year.
6. With all that is going on with the Mets are the present, Showalter cannot afford these unforced errors. More to the point, the whole premise for hiring him was he doesn’t make these egregious mistakes because he knows more than us all.
7. If the issue for Pete Alonso was the bat handle, the Mets shouldn’t let him near anything other than the axe handle again.
8. It was a real positive to see Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, and Jeff McNeil get three hit games. All three have been struggling in their own right, and they all need to break out of their early season slumps.
9. Whatever is going on with Max Scherzer, he needs to figure it out. It’s not just the three homers on three pitches. He is becoming susceptible to the big inning, and the strikeout numbers are down. If he’s not an ace, the Mets are in trouble.
10. Luis Guillorme does what he does. He had a good game at the plate, and he was very good defensively. He also stepped up and pitched a scoreless inning when the Mets really needed to save the bullpen. He is much better than people want to give him credit.
11. Mark Canha had one big game in Miami. Aside from that, he has been terrible at the plate, and we know he hasn’t been great in the outfield. His days as a starter should be numbered.
12. Of all the issues we see with Eduardo Escobar, perhaps the most troubling is his sprint speed is way down. Perhaps, that is because he hasn’t had any reason to sprint this season.
15. If not for the Brett Baty thumb injury, you have to imagine he would have been here this weekend. The Mets already need him. You can say the same for Mark Vientos, but there’s no obvious spot on the roster for him right now.
16. After all we saw in Milwaukee, the Mets were smart to delay the season opener a day. The team was in shambles and needed a rest. It sucks for the fans, but we are more interested in wins than anything else . . . or at least we should be.
17. Flat out, the Mets did not look good in this series. They were completely outplayed by a mediocre Brewers squad. The hope is that it is just that ballpark.
18. After the home opening series against the Miami Marlins, things get more difficult for the Mets. If they continue playing this way, changes will need to come sooner rather than later.
19. This id David Peterson’s chance. He can’t blow it like he did in this series.
20. That final game of the series is what gives you hope. As we saw last year, when Lindor and Alonso are hitting, everything is fine. You’d like to believe after last season, Billy Eppler would’ve tried harder to ease Lindor’s and Alonso’s burden.
So far, it has looked like a problem.
We can and should say many times over it’s early. However, we’re seeing problems of last year resurface for both players. That creates a dilemma for the Mets.
This could keep Canha and Escobar fresher. Mainly, it shifts the positions and responsibilities of veterans. Instead of everyday players, they become utility or semi-regular players.
If no one is hitting, then Guillorme’s glove needs to be on the field everyday. In reality, it always needed to be there.
Same goes for Baty. He always should have been on the roster. He’s a better defender now than Escobar, and he has more potential to be a better hitter than Canha or Escobar.
Again, this seems to be a rush to judgment, but that’s partially because the Mets have a rapidly approaching deadline. Per Baseball America, if Baty is called up with two weeks, the Mets may be eligible for the Prospect Promotion Incentive.
Due to the timelines, if Baty is called up soon, the Mets are eligible for a first round pick and international bonus pool money if he wins Rookie of the Year. Even if he were not to win it, the Mets could receive future compensation if he finishes in the top three in MVP voting until he’s arbitration eligible.
If Baty is up, there will still be plenty of at-bats to go around to Canha and Escobar. That’s partially the result of Daniel Vogelbach being a platoon DH.
However, at some point, the Mets need to stop worrying about finding them at-bats and just give playing time to worthy players who can help them win.
At the moment, Canha and Pham look overmatched at the plate and aren’t great defenders. Escobar isn’t a good defender and again appears to be a platoon bat. There’s a deadline on Baty fast approaching.
The Mets created a problem by assembling this roster. The right-handed bats were very questionable and look all the more so through two games.
Given Baty and PPI, they can’t just wait for Canha, Escobar, and Pham to right the ship. Mets need to act quickly and right the ship.
For the New York Mets 60th season, I made 60 bold predictions heading into the season. The concept is to really go for it instead of being meek and saying Francisco Lindor will play the most games at short, or Pete Alonso will lead the team in homers. It was to be daring. Some hit, and some did not. In any event, here are 61 for this year as this is the 61st season:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2023 World Series.
2. The Mets will be the third best team in the division during the regular season.
3. David Peterson will have more starts this season than any other Mets starter.
4. Kodai Senga will be an All-Star.
6. By the middle of June, Brett Baty will be called up, and he will overtake the Mets third base job for the next decade.
7. The Mets will have more blown saves by the All-Star Break than Edwin Díaz had all of last season.
8. The Mets are going to find a way to get Alexis Díaz this season. When they get him, Steve Cohen will speak about just how important family is and how that was a motivating factor in getting Díaz.
9. Part of the Díaz deal will be Joey Votto going to the Mets. The lifelong Red will be excited because he is getting a chance to win, and the Reds will be excited because it clears a massive chunk of payroll. Votto will take over as the Mets DH.
10. Ronny Mauricio is going to be moved this year as the big prospect to get a big piece or two at the trade deadline.
12. We will see Álvarez get called up multiple times, but he is not going to stick on the roster until September.
13. The Mets will not need a closer at the trade deadline, but they will need an outfielder. They will still get at least one reliever at the deadline.
16. The Mets will announce a date where they are going to retire Carlos Beltrán‘s number 15.
17. The pitch clock is going to be a hit with the fans, but we are going to see multiple issues early in the season where games are swung on its implementation leading to player and that fanbase’s frustration.
19. The Mets are going to have a tough first half with many wondering if the team was too old or if this is a reincarnation of the 1992 Worst Team Money Could Buy. The Mets will shut everyone up with a great second half.
20. The rule changes will rejuvenate Keith Hernandez, who will come to enjoy the modern game more than any particular fan.
21. Brandon Nimmo will be a first time All-Star. He will be joined there by Lindor, McNeil, Senga, and Verlander.
22. Pete Alonso returns to the Home Run Derby, and he wins it again.
24. Eduardo Escobar loses his starting third base job, but he will still serve as an important semi-regular on the roster.
25. Lindor will be the only Mets player to win a Gold Glove this season. Guillorme and McNeil will be finalists.
26. Starling Marte will play fewer than 100 games, but he will be healthy for the postseason and will be one of the best Mets in the postseason.
27. Dylan Bundy will be added to the Major League roster at some point during the season, and he will stick in the bullpen at some point.
28. McNeil and Lindor will each finish in the top five in MVP voting with McNeil winning the award.
29. J.D. Davis will get out to a good start leading for Mets fans to further complain about the Darin Ruf trade, but Davis will cool off considerably thereafter with no one saying much of anything past May.
30. This will be Eric Chávez‘s last season as a coach with the Mets as he will be the hot candidate for managerial jobs in the offseason.
31. Meet Joey Meneses, who will be the newest Mets killer.
32. Scherzer is going to have a better season than Verlander.
33. Verlander will have zero issues adjusting to New York.
34. Lindor is going to play in every single Mets game this season.
35. The Mets will aggressively pursue David Bednar and Bryan Reynolds, but the stingy Pittsburgh Pirates owner will not make a deal with Steve Cohen on principle based on this spending the last offseason.
36. When he returns from the IL, Mets fans are going to fall in love with Bryce Montes de Oca, and we will see him get at least a down ballot Rookie of the Year vote.
37. Shohei Ohtani will not be traded this year no matter how hard the Mets try to get him. Part of the reason will be the Los Angeles Angels contending for the last Wild Card spot.
38. Noah Syndergaard will actually start against the Mets when the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Citi Field in April. He will get a loud ovation as he takes the mound.
40. Alonso will appear in more games at DH than any other right-handed batter as Buck Showalter tries to keep him fresher than he did last season.
41. While there will be calls for a closer-by-committee approach, Showalter is going to go with David Robertson as the closer to begin the season, and he will carry the role at least through the All-Star Break.
42. Buck Showalter will not be the NL Manager of the Year, and he will not finish in the top five in voting.
44. Jose Butto will be up-and-down a few times this season being designated at that prospect who comes up one week for a spot start and another week to hang out in the bullpen. He is going to struggle, and there will be more people calling him a non-prospect.
45. While it will be an exhausting story line, Verlander will win a World Series start, and he will be dominant.
46. Despite his World Baseball Classic success, no team will sign Matt Harvey this season with his pending suspension being part of the reason.
48. Pride Night is scheduled for June 16. The Mets will force Raley to wear whatever gear is mandated that day by Major League Baseball.
49. Lindor is and will continue to be the best shortstop in baseball. Yes, that means he will have a better season than Trea Turner.
50. We will see Mark Vientos at some point this season but only for a limited time as the Mets are going to struggle to find spots for him even with Vientos having a monster year with Syracuse.
51. This will be the last season the 1962 Mets have the record for most losses in a season. The bottom feeders of baseball are just that bad this season.
52. Nimmo wins his first Silver Slugger this season.
53. The Mets will have a day honoring the New York Rangers after the Rangers win the Stanley Cup with Mets fan Adam Fox throwing out the first pitch.
55. Kevin Parada will play in Double-A this season, and we will start to hear some wonder if it is him or Álvarez as the Mets catcher of the future.
56. Nimmo is going to steal 20+ bases this season.
57. Escobar will continue his streak of 20+ home run seasons.
58. One development from the pitch clock is Citi Field will begin to have all of their concession stands handle pre-order and pick up as fans are not going to have as many delays and will not want to miss game action.
59. There will be some celebration at Citi Field this season for the 40th anniversary of the 1973 pennant winning team. It will likely be tied into Old Timers’ Day.
60. The Mets will have multiple events throughout the year giving rewards to Mets fans for wearing their caps out in public as a continued attempt to get them more attention than the Yankees.
61. This will be the first time New York holds a Stanley Cup and World Series title since 1928.
The New York Mets made a series of puzzling decisions when forming their 2023 Opening Day roster. Brett Baty was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse. Tommy Pham was given a spot on the team as a fourth outfielder. All of this despite Darin Ruf being designated for assignment.
Putting aside any questions or disbelief, what really needs to be analyzed at this point is how the Mets should best utilize their roster. Looking at the roster as it stands right now, the only conclusion is Luis Guillorme needs to be an everyday player whether that be at second or third base.
If you look at the rule changes being implemented for the 2023 season, they almost beg for the Mets to play Guillorme regularly. That is from a defensive and na offensive standpoint.
The defensive point was obvious. Guillorme is an outstanding defender. He is a more natural second baseman, but he has made the adjustment to be excellent at third. That was part of the reason he was able to force himself into a platoon at the position last season.
Keep in mind, with no shift, infield defense will be at a premium. Remember, Escobar was a -6 OAA last year when you could fully shift. Without the shift, the Mets will need more from here, and it is highly doubtful he can give it to them.
There is also the matter of left field. Last season, Canha had a -1 OAA in left. We also saw his sprint speed dip every so slightly from 27.8 ft/sec to 27.5 ft/sec. That’s not earth shattering, but he is now 34 and will be more likely to lose another step than to gain it back.
There’s also the matter of his bat. His barrels and launch angles cratered last season. We also saw him limp to the finish line last season hitting .249/.349/.383 over his final 37 games of the season. He carried that into the Wild Card Series going 0-for10 at the plate.
This all isn’t to say Canha and Escobar don’t have value. In a limited or semi-regular role, they can stay fresher and do what they do well in shorter spurts. In the event of injury, they can step up into a starting role over a stretch.
In the meantime, we can see Guillorme playing excellent defense at second or third while Jeff McNeil moving between second and left. We can also see Guillorme’s contact oriented approach thrive all the more with the institution of the pitch clock and the ban on the shift.
Overall, Guillorme promises to be much better defensively than what Canha or Escobar can provide. He may also have the chance to outperform them offensively. All told, he is just a better and more valuable player than either of them necessitating he be in the everday lineup.
Before Darin Ruf played a game for the New York Mets, the trade was a bad deal. The J.D. Davis part made total sense. He was bad and needed to go. However, parting with Carson Seymour and Nick Zwack made the trade an insane overpay.
People tend to forget stuff like that when a player is great, and the team wins. However, Ruf had a 13 OPS+ with the Mets, is dealing with an arthritic wrist, and the Mets had a historic collapse before succumbing to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Round.
The Eduardo Escobar signing didn’t make sense when it happened. After all, he was never really a third baseman. There were a number of intangibles he brings where you understood the signing as the season progressed.
However, Escobar would eventually lose his third base job. He eventually fell into a platoon with Luis Guillorme. If not for an injury, he would have forever lost it to Brett Baty. To be fair, Escobar did have a great September and was a leader for the Mets.
However, that was all 2022. The Mets now need to figure out how best to build their team for 2023. Instead of doing that, they took all the lazy cop outs and stuck with the veterans.
Watching this spring, it was very clear Brett Baty was ready to take over the everyday third base job for the Mets. It was also clear Mark Vientos was better than Ruf as the right-handed platoon option, and it also seemed like he could take over for Daniel Vogelbach for the entirety of the job.
For Vientos, you understand the demotion. Vogelbach should put the miserable spring behind him and have a good year. It should also be noted being a short side platoon DH option is just about the worst way to develop a player.
Looking at Baty, choosing Ruf and Escobar over him made absolutely no sense whatsoever.
As has oft been noted, Escobar is a bad third baseman. He was a -6 OAA at the position last year. With the elimination of the shift, he may soon become downright unplayable at the position.
Still, Escobar had use for the team. While he hasn’t been a good left-handed hitter, he did thrive against left-handed pitching last year. He could have taken over Ruf’s role as the platoon DH. That is a far more preferable option.
First, Escobar is just a better hitter. More importantly, Escobar has far more versatility. He can play all the infield positions except first, and he was exposed to left field this spring. Having Escobar as the platoon DH option and on the bench makes the team stronger and more versatile.
Escobar being on the bench naturally coincides with Baty in the starting lineup. That would make the lineup deeper and the defense far better. As a result, the Mets would have been far better. Instead of pursuing that option, Eppler opted for excuses.
He said Nolan Arenado played more games in the minors. Of course, Arenado didn’t have to deal with a pandemic. Also, that wasn’t an issue when the Mets called up Baty last season.
In the end, this is the side product of a lot of things. Buck Showalter prefers veterans. The Mets are trying to justify two bad deals. Certainly, we cannot discount a bit of service time manipulation.
Whatever the case, the Mets 2023 Opening Day lineup isn’t nearly as good as it can or should be. As a result, Eppler failed the team in his main objective – getting the manager the best roster he possibly can.
Eduardo Escobar is going to play in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela. Venezuela has a lot of talent in the infield, but outside Ronald Acuña Jr., they do not have a lot of talent in the outfield. As a result, there have been discussions about Escobar playing left field in the WBC.
Obviously, if the New York Mets had an issue with this, they would attempt to prevent Escobar from playing out in left. As a general rule, Venezuela would seek to acquiesce the Mets request. However, that is not what is happening here.
Instead, the Mets are looking to play Escobar in left field during spring training. Make no mistake, this isn’t just to help Escobar be in a position to play well out there for Venezuela. Rather, they are doing this to help the Mets in 2023.
If you recall last season, the Mets opted to have Escobar as the short side platoon for Luis Guillorme. For a moment, it seemed like Escobar lost the third base job forever as Brett Baty made his Major League debut. If not for Baty’s torn thumb ligament, Escobar may never have played third base for the Mets again.
In fact, there is an open question as to whether he is the best fit for the Mets in 2023. As noted here previously, with the elimination of the shift, Guillorme should be the Mets second baseman. As others have argued, Baty is the Mets best option at third because of his offensive potential, and the fact Escobar has not been a good Major League third baseman.
In 2022, Escobar had a -6 OAA at third, and he was a -3 OAA the previous season. Long story short, Escobar is not a good third baseman. Listening to Buck Showalter, he is going to prioritize defense and rightfully so. That should mean less of Escobar at third.
Not playing Escobar is justified, but that is not the same as saying he is not an important part of this team. Obviously, he profiles well as a platoon option at DH with Daniel Vogelbach. It should also be noted the Mets only have four outfielders on the roster. They could (and probably should) move Jeff McNeil out there.
However, it would make sense to see if Escobar can play out there. If he is going to be a semi-regular or utility player, he is going to have to play more than just second and third. He needs to learn left to be of more utility to the Mets.
Overall, the WBC presents an easy cover for the Mets to get a look at Escobar in left. Truth be told, the Mets needed to do this anyway. As a result, the WBC presented a unique opportunity for the Mets, and they took advantage of an opportunity to make their 2023 team more versatile.
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.
While the New York Mets have addressed many of their offseason needs, the one area which remains unaddressed is DH. To a certain extent, it seems odd a team so willing to go well beyond the point where teams would consider spending has seen their offseason stall on this front. Certainly, the Carlos Correa drama was part of that.
However, the Mets did see viable options sign elsewhere. Andrew McCutchen purportedly turned down more money from the Mets to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Trey Mancini is a Chicago Cub. Adam Duvall just signed with the Boston Red Sox.
This leaves the Mets trying to talk themselves into the next tier of players. Jurickson Profar is a popular target, but he’s not much of a hitter. He does increase the Mets versatility, but he is also not someone who has not thrived in a reserve or part-time role.
Robbie Grossman is an interesting choice. He has good numbers against left-handed pitching, and he does have a good walk rate. Typically speaking, he makes good contact, and he can hold his own defensively. Moreover, he has thrived in a reserve/part-time role. However, he has zero power.
That brings us back to Darin Ruf. What this Mets team was sorely lacking was power, and the Mets gave up way too much to get Ruf to try to help address their power issues. Obviously, Ruf did not do that last season posting a 13 OPS+. He did get one postseason start drawing a walk and a HBP in his one start.
It should be noted Ruf did land on the IL after he was acquired by the Mets with a neck strain. Certainly, it’s possible that impacted his performance. If it did, the hope is he could be back to being a right-handed DH platoon option against left-handed pitching. In his career, he does have a 143 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
He’s slightly more than a platoon DH option. He can spell Pete Alonso at first base on occasion. That’s important with Alonso needing a break every now and then. He can’t play the outfield everyday in his career, but he can at least play there for a game or an inning or two. This does have some value to the team.
Mostly, he’s simply replaceable. If he doesn’t get the job done, Eduardo Escobar or Mark Canha can easily take over his role. That would require the Mets to play Luis Guillorme as their primary second baseman, but that is something they should be doing anyway. There is also the question of when the Mets are going to call-up Francisco Álvarez or Mark Vientos to at least take over part of this role.
In the end, the Mets have Ruf and are paying him. He has a role which can be easily supplanted by the talent on this team. The upgrades on the free agent market are gone. At this point, the Mets might as well role with him and see if he can rebound.
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.