The first big free agent signing for the Mets was infielder Eduardo Escobar, who was part of Steve Cohen’s Black Friday splurge that included outfielders Mark Canha and Starling Marte. But as the team begins to form, the question of who will start at each position comes up.
Escobar was brought in as a utility infielder who can play just about anywhere on the diamond while the Mets figured out if they were able to bring back Javier Baez. Now that Baez has agreed to a deal with the Detroit Tigers, where will Escobar play?
If you ask Escobar himself, he’ll tell you exactly what he prefers.
“I’m the type of player that as long as I see my name in the lineup I'm fine because I know I can help the team win,” Escobar said through a translator at his introductory news conference. “Over the last couple years, I've been able to play all around the diamond. I play third, I can play second. I learned how to play first and I think that's something a manager would love, to just have that flexibility. With the type of team that we have my preference would be third base, but it doesn't matter wherever the manager wants me to play. I'll play.”
The Mets have first base locked down with Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor is the everyday shortstop, which leaves second base, which was Baez’s position last season after he was traded from the Cubs, and third base without a stalwart.
Currently, JD Davis and Luis Guillorme are the team’s third basemen going into the 2022 season. In 50 games at third base with the Mets, Davis hit .285 with five home runs and 23 RBI. Guillorme played 27 games at third and hit .265 last season.
Robinson Cano will return from his suspension next season and could be the team’s second baseman. In the shortened 2020 season, Cano hit .316 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI in 49 games. Jeff McNeil started 73 games at second base in 2021 before his injury and the trade for Baez transformed the 29-year-old to a utility player.
There’s definitely room for Escobar to bounce between positions, something general manager Billy Eppler coveted when pursuing the 32-year-old Venezuelan.
“I think it’s fair to say that Eduardo is gonna accumulate a boatload of plate appearances and he can do that in a number of a number of positions,” Eppler said when asked if Escobar would be the everyday third baseman. “So we're gonna preserve optionality.”
With Kris Bryant and other free agents still on the market, it's good to keep options open.
Escobar played 18 games at first, 42 at second, one at shortstop, and 99 games at third base last season between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers, so he's adept at playing anywhere on the diamond and moving wherever his team needs him.
“We’re here to do whatever it is to help the team win. Our job is to bring our experience to the clubhouse and team,” Escobar said. “It’s also to give that manager flexibility to be able to make different moves. As long as we're in the lineup, we're gonna do whatever we can to help the team win and yet just going forward, whatever the team needs, wherever we are in the lineup I feel like we can help with our experience and ability on the field.”