For an organization that now appears to be stressing the development of its younger, homegrown players, the Mets’ plan at third base should be clear enough.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported last week that the Mets don’t appear to be in on free-agent third baseman Matt Chapman, arguably the top hot-corner candidate on the open market, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
The Mets have a trio of young third-base options to take a serious look at next season — Heyman naming two of them in Ronny Mauricio and Brett Baty as the perceived combatants for the everyday job.
Baty is a natural third baseman who was expected to be the cornerstone at the position for the foreseeable future as one of the organization’s top prospects in recent years. But it’s been a challenging start, though the sample size is still small. In 119 games over the last two seasons, which featured a torn UCL in his thumb to end his 2022 debut after just 11 games, the 23-year-old is slashing .210/.272/.325 (.597 OPS) with 11 home runs and 39 RBI.
The combination of mostly Baty (100 games), Eduardo Escobar (29 games), and Mark Vientos (19 games) posted a WAR of minus-1.2, which ranked dead-last at the third-base position in Major League Baseball.
While Escobar was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels in May, another top prospect in Vientos was used sparingly throughout the season, getting most of his looks at the DH spot (38 games). His omission in Heyman’s report at least suggests that he’ll either get a look at DH again, be used as a utility bat, or could potentially be used as a trade chip this winter.
Mauricio’s introduction to the third-base equation is a wild card. The 22-year-old got off to a flying start in the majors after his call-up on Sept. 1.
There’s no doubt that he hits the ball hard, but major question marks surround his defense. With his natural shortstop position taken by Francisco Lindor, the Mets have tried Mauricio at second base, and third base while expressing a desire to work him into the outfield, too. He got five games at the hot corner but mostly played at second — a spot he looked more comfortable in and could very well slot into if the Mets deem Jeff McNeil as more of an outfield or super-utility option.