Mets Ink Deals With Marte, Canha, Escobar

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While the day after Thanksgiving is widely regarded as one of the biggest shopping days around the country, Billy Eppler and the Mets did some shopping of their own on Friday. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Mets agreed to terms with free-agent infielder Eduardo Escobar on a two-year, $20 million contract with a club option for 2024. The Mets weren't done there. A short while later, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the team was nearing an agreement with free-agent outfielder Mark Canha on a two-year deal worth $26.5 million. And late Friday night, the Mets landed one of the most sought-after free agents in center fielder Starling Marte, signing him to a four-year, $78 million contract.

The Mets were praised Friday evening for improving the team with the additions of Escobar and Canha. They were good depth pieces that every team needs. But when the Marte deal was announced, it was a signal that the Mets are for real. Eppler came to make moves, and he sure did so just days before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. Marte is the highest-profile free agent to sign thus far and the first big-name hitter off the market. The 33-year-old outfielder is coming off a tremendous season, hitting .310/.383/.458 with 12 homers and 47 steals across 526 plate appearances. Health has always been a factor when it comes to Marte. He's surpassed 600 plate appearances just twice in his career. But he's one of the most dynamic players when he's on the field. After searching for what feels like several seasons, the Mets finally found their center fielder.

The versatile Escobar gives New York some quality depth all over the infield. The 32-year-old veteran logged 99 games at third base, 42 at second base, 18 at first base, and one at shortstop last season for the Diamondbacks and Brewers. He had a strong season overall, bouncing back nicely after a down 2020 campaign, posting a .253/.314/.472 slash line with 28 home runs and 90 RBI across 599 plate appearances. Escobar's best season came in 2019 with Arizona, in which he hit .269/.320/.511 with 35 homers and 118 RBI. Escobar naturally slots in at third base for the Mets, a position left vacant by the departure of Jonathan Villar. Though J.D. Davis remains on the roster and could figure into the playing time at the hot corner. And the team likely isn't done shopping this offseason. Regardless, Escobar should be in the lineup against all left-hander starters. He's generally hit lefties much better throughout his career and posted a .877 OPS against southpaws last season while recording a .752 OPS against right-handers.

The Mets' second acquisition on Friday, Mark Canha, gives them a familiar profile in the outfield. Much like Brandon Nimmo, Canha excels at getting on base. The 32-year-old's .377 OBP is the ninth-best among qualified hitters since 2019. Canha is coming off a relatively down season after he hit .231/.358/.387 with 17 homers, 93 runs scored, and 12 steals across 625 plate appearances for the Oakland A's. While the batting average left much to be desired, Canha was exceptional at getting on base behind his 12.3 percent walk rate. He essentially replaces Michael Conforto as a corner outfielder. Nimmo figures to slot into the opposite corner outfield spot. Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil could also play left field. And the team will have to figure out what it ultimately wants to do with Robinson Cano. The addition of the designated hitter in the National League could go a long way in figuring out how the playing time will shake out in New York.

The Red Sox sign Michael Wacha

The Red Sox signed free-agent right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year contract on Friday. The 30-year-old veteran posted a 5.05 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 121 strikeouts over 124 2/3 innings for the Rays last season. After struggling for much of the season, Wacha did finish the campaign on a positive note. He recorded a 3.20 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 45 strikeouts across his final 39 1/3 innings. Wacha figures to join the starting rotation after a spot was vacated by Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez joined the Tigers earlier this month on a five-year $77 million contract. Wacha will look to carry his late-season momentum into 2022 for the Red Sox. Health will likely be the biggest factor as he hasn't recorded at least 130 innings since 2017.

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Quick Hits: Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Red Sox, Giants, Cubs, Mets, Angels, and Mariners are among the teams interested in free-agent right-hander Marcus Stroman... According to Jon Heyman of the MLB Network, the Orioles are willing to listen to trade offers for star outfielder Cedric Mullins... The Giants released Alex Dickerson... The Diamondbacks acquired Jordan Luplow from the Rays for Ronny Simon... The Pirates are re-signing Yoshi Tsutsugo to a $4 million contract... Brandan McKay underwent thoracic outlet syndrome decompression surgery on Tuesday and is expected to resume throwing in February... Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports the Rangers are among the teams interested in right-hander Jon Gray... The Twins released Willians Astudillo... The Angels released Kean Wong... Hector Yan was sent outright to Triple-A... The Reds re-signed Nick Howard to a minor-league contract and released Brandon Finnegan... The Guardians sent Daniel Johnson, Alex Young, and Justin Garza outright to Triple-A... The Diamondbacks claimed Kyle Nelson off waivers from the Guardians... The Phillies claimed Scott Moss off waivers from the Guardians...