Payrolls and shopping sprees be damned because the Mets trade rumors machine never ceases to halt.
As the baseball world continues to wait with bated breath on updates regarding the potential finalization and agreement of Carlos Correa’s contract with the Mets, talks of the team’s next steps have begun to loom.
Reports indicate that Eduardo Escobar could be dealt if or when the Correa deal officially goes through with teams like the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers already having checked in on the 34-year-old.
Getting his contract off the books would trim $9.5 million off a 2023 Mets payroll that is currently projected at approximately $380 million — a drop in the proverbial water bucket — though team owner Steve Cohen hasn’t done much to suggest that he’s interested in shedding salary after spending $801.6 million over a six-week stretch between November and December.
If that is the strategy, the Mets won’t be getting much back in return similar to what they did by sending James McCann to the Baltimore Orioles. Granted, McCann’s value is significantly lower than Escobar, who had a down season with a .240 average, .726 OPS, and 20 home runs.
It would also create further questions surrounding the designated hitter spot within New York’s lineup.
The potential acquisition of Correa would pencil the two-time All-Star at third base next to Francisco Lindor, logically flexing Escobar to the DH spot as a switch-hitting option to work alongside Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf.
Neither of the trade deadline acquisitions from last summer did much to run away with a DH job that was also fumbled away by the likes of JD Davis and Dominic Smith in 2022. While Vogelbach posted an .830 OPS in 55 games with the Mets, he lacked in the power department with just six home runs and 25 RBI. Ruf quickly fell out of favor in Queens after coming over from the San Francisco Giants, batting .152 (10-for-66) with no home runs and seven RBI.
Taking Escobar out of the equation only thins the Mets’ options at in-house options to provide support at the spot — most of which are inexperienced.
There will be calls to make Francisco Alvarez the DH, but the organization’s No. 1 prospect and perceived catcher of the future still needs to improve on his defense behind the plate — and game action whether that be in Triple-A or the majors is the only remedy.
Brett Baty batted .184 in 11 games before a thumb injury that required surgery ended his season early. Mark Vientos didn’t fare much better with a .167 mark in 36 at-bats. Both come in extremely limited sample sizes, but it’s a sizable ask to depend on them to be consistent contributors if Escobar is traded and Vogelbach needs help.
Of course, there’s still time this winter for the Mets to hit the market and find a power bat that’s more legitimate if needed.