On Wednesday evening, the Mets introduced their newest trio of position players on zoom: Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha.
The team of course, knocked out all three of these signings on their Black Friday spending spree, which created some initial buzz before landing the golden goose in ace pitcher Max Scherzer.
So, why did they ultimately land on the latter group of veteran position players, who are all 33-years-old, to help improve what was a disappointing offense a season ago?
According to Mets general manager Billy Eppler, it can all be boiled down to positional flexibility, veteran leadership and culture.
“Adding these players really solidifies our lineup," said Eppler. "Each player provides positional flexibility and depth. [And] Contributing to our culture was important to us.
“I love players that can play on the dirt and the grass,” Eppler said. “I think it opens up so many different options for the manager. It also helps to provide off days for somebody that has maybe played 11, 14 games in a row. If we can do that and feel good about the names going in, I think that’s going to serve the club well.”
As team president Sandy Alderson admitted, the chemistry in the clubhouse eroded last year once the Mets plummeted in the standings. That is why the organization made it a priority to bring in guys with solid reputations around the league.
“It’s definitely an element and criteria we look for,” Eppler said. “How that group integrates and supports each other is very important. Will our players make their teammates more significant than they are? We build that type of culture within the organization. We are excited to bring this group into the fold with the guys that are already here.”
Out of the three position players the Mets added, Marte was the biggest signing of the bunch, landing a four-year, $78 million deal.
And as Marte revealed, Robinson Cano has been one of his mentors throughout his career. He also has family in New York, which played a factor in his decision as well.
“I’ve had a good relationship with Robinson Cano, and I’ve always wanted to be his teammate,” Marte said. “I have a lot of family in New York and I felt like it was the right time for me to take on this opportunity.”
Although Cano didn't recruit Marte to the Mets, they've talked about becoming teammates down the line and Cano was one of the first people who reached out to him after he signed his contract.
"Adding somebody as dynamic as Starling [Marte] was seen as critical," Eppler said.
Marte, who is a center fielder, claims he has no preference as to where he plays next year. And Eppler said they have not yet decided on where he will play, nor have they had a discussion with Brandon Nimmo about whether they plan to move him to a corner spot.
As for Escobar, who signed a two-year, $20 million deal, he is excited to bring his experience and energy to the Mets. And although his preference is to play third base, he can also play second and taught himself to play first as well.
"It’s fair to say that Eduardo’s going to accumulate a boatload of plate appearances, and he can do that at a number of positions," said Eppler.
Escobar was also enthusiastic about the slew of moves the Mets have made over the course of the past week. Although the Mets struck out on a few signings, they quickly flipped the script and it started with signing Escobar.
“I can’t even express how happy I am with all the moves the team made,” Escobar said. “I feel like it’s going to be incredible chemistry in the clubhouse that will enable us to win a lot of games. The front office deserves a ton of credit for all the moves they’ve made thus far.”
Regarding Canha, who played the entirety of his career with the Oakland Athletics before signing a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the Mets, the action surrounding the New York's offseason so far is something that is new to him and a lot of fun.
And while Canha has only been in Oakland in the big-leagues, he is ready to embrace the atmosphere of playing in a big market.
Beyond the opportunity of being in New York, Canha shared a special gesture made by Eppler and Alderson which ultimately sold him on choosing the Mets.
“Sandy and Billy actually came out to see me in person, and nobody else did that,” Canha said.”I didn’t think much of it at the time, and I didn’t know much about the Mets before, so this gave me really good insight. This very much felt like a family and they cared very much about my wife being there as well.”
Canha is currently projected to receive the bulk of his playing time in a corner outfield spot, but he can also play center field and first base. Throughout his career, he has always been the one to fill in for guys who need a day off here and there as well.
"I’ll play wherever you need me," said Canha. "In the past, I’ve filled in when guys have needed day off or guys are hurt. I’ve always embraced that role and taken pride in my athleticism."
While Marte, Escobar and Canha are all high on-base guys who hit well with runners in scoring position, Eppler said he looked at the process rather than the results, which can fluctuate at times.
The strong results from this group are stemmed from their ability to hit for contact, which is an aspect that Eppler values, along with making good decisions in the batter's box.
In the end, Mets' brass envisions this trio making just as much as an impact as Scherzer on the roster. That is why all three of them will be in a Mets uniform next season and beyond.
Between Scherzer, Marte, Escobar and Canha, the Mets have committed a total of $254.5 million, signaling that they are all-in and ready to compete in 2022.
As Eppler revealed on Wednesday, the Mets have a wide list of managers and they will begin the interview process sometime in the near future.
Eppler expects to discuss the front office's preferred criteria with owner Steve Cohen by tomorrow morning.
"I've had a couple different volleys already with Sandy [Alderson] on the subject," he said. "It's coming through and we'll start the process of actually formally interviewing people very soon."
Lastly, Eppler added that the manager will be given the ability to make assessments on lineups and matchups each day. Eppler referred to data and analytics as a good road map, but it is up to the manager and coaching staff to adjust to in-game scenarios as they come along.