The Mets signed free agents Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha, and Starling Marte for a combined $124.5 million commitment over the span of a few hours on Friday night, according to several reports. The only NL East offense that was as inept as the Marlins' for lengthy portions of the 2021 season is expected to be significantly better next season.
Escobar has signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the team that includes a 2024 club option. Canha acquired a contract with the same structure as the others, but with a guarantee of $26.5 million.
Marte, who had a slew of admirers, successfully started a bidding war, which resulted in his four-year, $78 million contract.
Marte was the only member of the group in whom the Marlins expressed a clear interest. Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Craig Mish of SportsGrid had heard that the first offer they made to his camp was significantly less lucrative than the one he eventually received. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, they modified it at some point on Friday in a true effort to keep him away from their division rivals, but there was still a substantial gap in guaranteed cash.
Miguel Rojas went out of his way to support fellow Venezuelan Escobar.
The Marlins' decision-makers didn't seem to like him. To be fair, Escobar's presence would have been awkward on a team that already boasts Brian Anderson and Jazz Chisholm Jr. at third and second base, respectively.
Marte only played 93 games for the Marlins (regular season and postseason combined) despite creating so many wonderful memories. There's a chance he'll be a Marlins opponent more often than he was a part of the team. He has 35 games versus the Fish in his career, as of 2022. His Mets will face them 19 times per year in the future, assuming no changes to MLB's regular-season scheduling arrangement.
The Mets are still an incomplete squad due to a lack of starting rotation depth. Similarly, if the Marlins spent big on Escobar, Canha, and Marte, they'd still need to find a catcher and high-leverage relievers. However, it's understandable to be concerned about how little has been accomplished so far this summer.
The Marlins have all of the same glaring vulnerabilities that they had two months ago with only five days until a projected MLB lockout. They took advantage of the Rays' roster squeeze and acquired Louis Head, who might be in the bullpen come Opening Day. Sandy Alcantara's contract is set to be extended for another five years, according to Mish. That's it for now.
The Marlins will be forced to open a few 40-man spaces by the non-tender deadline on Tuesday. The safest bet to be cut is Jorge Alfaro, who will be followed by Lewis Brinson. They'll have to make a tough decision on Jess Aguilar, given his expected contract hike and limited defensive versatility. These possible reductions, on their own, are not cause for excitement.
Louis Addeo-Weiss, the deputy editor of Fish Stripes, and I have advocated for pursuing free agent Chris Taylor. I'm concerned that his clout has increased as a result of his actions on Friday. Taylor, who is over two years Marte's junior and has similar recent plate appearances, will seek to eclipse his $78 million earnings. Aside from the Mets, practically every other contender should be kicking the tires on him. If Taylor's price is too high, the Marlins will have to look for a quality center fielder on the trade market.
Keep an eye on FS for updates on the pre-lockout pandemonium.