Monday, December 6 2021
Eduardo Escobar with Brewers in 2021 rounds bases treated art

Eduardo Escobar with Brewers in 2021 rounds bases treated art

The Mets will be targeting top-tier players this offseason as they reshape their roster. In the process, they will likely be vaulting well past whatever the luxury tax threshold ends up being.

That means that new GM Billy Eppler, with owner Steve Cohen pledging to provide whatever the front office needs, will pursue players such as Max Scherzer, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Starling Marte.

But even if the Mets sign some of the biggest names out there, they will likely need reinforcements from the other tiers of the free agent market, too.

Here are five under-the-radar free agents who could fit…

INF Eduardo Escobar

If not for the presence of one of the most star-studded groups of middle infielders to ever hit the free agent market, along with the presence of Bryant, Escobar would likely not be flying under the radar.

But he kind of is.

Escobar, who turns 33 years old in January, can play third base, shortstop, and second base, so he’s versatile.

He has also been very good since 2017, with his only poor season being the pandemic-shortened 2020.

With the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers in 2021, Escobar slashed .253/.314/.472 with 28 homers, 26 doubles, and five triples in 146 games.

For the Mets, Escobar would likely be a fit if they sign one of Bryant or Baez, but not both.

And while Escobar will not be cheap, his age and the presence of so many other high-quality infielders on the free agent market should keep his price in terms of both years and dollars reasonable.

OF Eddie Rosario

The 30-year-old Rosario turned heads while going off with the Atlanta Braves this season after being acquired from the Cleveland Indians, hitting .271/.330/.573 with seven homers in 33 games during the regular season.

He then won the NLCS MVP after crushing three homers and slashing .560/.607/1.040 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Oct 23, 2021; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario (8) rounds the bases after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game six of the 2021 NLCS at Truist Park.Oct 23, 2021; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario (8) rounds the bases after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game six of the 2021 NLCS at Truist Park.

Oct 23, 2021; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario (8) rounds the bases after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game six of the 2021 NLCS at Truist Park.

But while Rosario’s stock rose while with the Braves, he has been a solid hitter for quite some time.

In seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins, Indians, and Braves, Rosario has hit .275/.309/.473 while averaging 27 homers per 162 games.

A look at his advanced stats shows some red flags, though.

His defense in left field has been up and down, but he won’t be a liability.

RHP Joe Kelly

Despite Kelly being one of the Dodgers’ best relievers last season, they declined his $12 million option, making him a free agent.

In 48 appearances over 44 innings for the Dodgers in 2021, Kelly had a 2.86 ERA (3.08 FIP) and 0.97 WHIP with 50 strikeouts (10.2 per 9).

Kelly, who primarily features a sinking fastball and a curve, was in the 97th percentile last season when it came to fastball velocity and in the 93rd percentile when it came to spin rate on his curve.

For the Mets, the 33-year-old Kelly — who was dominant against both lefties and righties in 2021 — could be a solid late-inning option who could help replace the innings eaten up last season by Aaron Loup.

LHP Andrew Chafin

Even if the Mets sign a strong crossover reliever like Kelly, going after a lefty makes sense.

And Chafin, 31, has been one of the better left-handed relievers in the league since making his debut in 2014.

The fact that Chafin is coming off a career year could complicate things, though.

Would the Mets, who weren’t willing to match the $17 million given to Loup by the Los Angeles Angels off his career year, be willing to pay a premium for Chafin?

As the Mets add players who will be in starting roles, they will also need to fill bench roles. And Villar could be a perfect fit.

Thrust into the lineup on a more regular basis in 2021 due to all of the Mets’ injuries, Villar hit .249/.322/.416 with 18 homers in 142 games.

Still just 30 years old, Villar — who also swiped 14 bases last season — could be a strong bench piece for the Mets and a fill-in at third base, second base, and shortstop.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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