With Brett Baty impressing, Eduardo Escobar unsure if he's still Mets' starting third baseman
With Opening Day against the Marlins in Miami just nine days away, the Mets can pencil in just about all of their starting position players. Sure, Brandon Nimmo’s health could factor into the starting outfield alignment, but Nimmo is hopeful he’ll be able to go.
The only real question mark left is at third base, where veteran Eduardo Escobar and star prospect Brett Baty both seem to have a legitimate chance to take the field at loanDepot Park on March 30.
Baty has gotten an extended look at third base during the Mets’ spring schedule, in part because of Escobar’s participation in the World Baseball Classic with Team Venezuela.
The veteran returned to Mets camp this week, and told Mike Puma of The New York Post that he’s unsure if he’s still considered the team’s starter at the hot corner.
“I don’t know,” Escobar told The Post when asked if he still views himself as the starter. “For me I am coming in here with the idea that I am working hard and control what I can and working and seeing what happens.”
Baty has had a terrific spring, slashing .342/.468/.447 with one home run, five RBI and seven runs scored in 20 games. He has committed four errors in 19 games at third (he started once at DH), but he’s still shown off some good range and appears ready to hold his own defensively.
Escobar, meanwhile, has a much smaller spring training sample size, having played in just seven games before joining Venezuela in the WBC, but his numbers haven’t been great. In seven games (20 at-bats), Escobar has slashed .100/.182/.100. He’s also coming off a down year at the plate, slashing .240/.295/.430 in 2022, well below his career averages.
Outside of Baty, the Mets have also given Mark Vientos a good look at third this spring, starting him there seven times (he’s also started at first base eight times). Vientos struggled during his cup of coffee with the Mets last season (.167/.268/.278), but he’s looked much more comfortable at the plate this spring, slashing .288/.321/.500 with a pair of homers and 11 RBI.
Baty is certainly viewed more as the Mets’ long-term answer at third than Vientos, who can play the other corner as well as even a corner outfield spot, but no matter who gets the starting job come Opening Day, Escobar says that he’s very happy to see how the youngsters have performed.
“These guys are the future of the team,” Escobar said. “They are doing a great job and I am so happy these two kids are doing a great job in spring training.”