With the All-Star break in the rearview mirror, it’s time for the New York Mets to fortify the roster for the stretch run. But with trade rumors already swirling ahead of the deadline, the Mets would benefit just as much from a few in-house options returning to form.
As the team sits just 2.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East, the most glaring areas of need include middle-relief and the bottom of the lineup – specifically, catching and Designated Hitter. While this doesn’t preclude them from making moves elsewhere, those areas should be the priorities for any external adds.
With that said, there are players currently on the roster – and three in particular – whose performance over the next few weeks could lessen the burden on the front office to acquire significant assets at the deadline.
1) NY Mets who need to be better in the second half: Eduardo Escobar
Of the Mets high profile signings last winter, Eduardo Escobar is the only one that hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. A first-time All Star in 2021, Escobar entered the break this season with a slash line of just .224/.279/.397 and minus-9 defensive runs saved at third base.
Much has been made about how the Mets have not had enough offensive production from their catchers or the Designated Hitter spot. But a return to form for Escobar in the second half would really go a long way in neutralizing the lack of offense elsewhere. It would also take pressure off the front office at the trade deadline, allowing the team to aim for another hitter who would come at a modest price instead of one that would cost top prospects.
There have been some encouraging signs of late for Escobar. He posted a .742 OPS with five home runs over the first 17 games of July, while also coming up with some clutch defensive plays in helping the Mets to a double header sweep of the Cubs just before the break.
Still, it’s been a stop-and-start kind of year for the 33-year-old, with the prevailing narrative centered around his struggles in the clutch. Across 104 plate appearances in the first half, Escobar had just a .598 OPS with runners in scoring position. Frankly, it seemed that Escobar left runners on base almost every time the situation presented itself.
Even if he can improve in that area alone, it would flip the script dramatically for a player that seems to be universally liked and respected for his clubhouse presence. As Escobar himself put it recently, “One day, I’m going to give [the fans] reasons to cheer for me.”