Less than a week before the MLB lockdown started, the New York Mets made a flurry of signings that really took the baseball world by storm.
Eduardo Escobar was the first news to break on Nov. 26 at around 5:30 p.m., which was quickly followed by Mark Canha about three hours later. However, it barely took until the end of the day for those two signings to be overshadowed by Starling Marte, with news breaking just after midnight on Nov. 27 of his agreement with the Mets.
It makes sense, Marte is one of the most electrifying players in the game and he signed for twice as long and about four times as much as both Escobar and Canha. He was the story, and while Escobar and Canha weren’t forgotten, they certainly took a back seat.
Then on Nov. 29th, all three were completely dwarfed by the signing of future Hall-of-Famer Max Scherzer to a deal with the largest average annual value of all time. But the Escobar and Canha signings were arguably just as important as Scherzer and Marte, even though they weren’t nearly as flashy.
Early on, it looks like the Mets are getting incredible value out of both deals.
Let’s start with Canha. Seven outfielders signed free agent contracts this offseason that have an AAV of at least $10 million. Canha is tied for the cheapest at $13.25M. The other six are Avisail Garcia ($13.25M), Seiya Suzuki ($17M), Starling Marte ($19.5M), Kyle Schwarber ($19.75M), Nick Castellanos ($20M) and Kris Bryant ($26M).
Through April, Canha has a higher OPS than five of them, only trailing Suzuki and Castellanos. Sure, the extra-base hits haven’t really come yet for Canha, but they will. Meanwhile, he’s been an absolute on-base machine, hitting well over .300 with an OBP well over .400.
He’s also been maybe one of the most clutch hitters in baseball. When hitting with two outs and runners in scoring position through April Canha has six hits, which is tied for the MLB lead and No. 1 on the Mets. When hitting in high leverage situations he’s 3-for-6 with a walk, and his OPS on the Mets is second only to Luis Guillorme (who is 1-for-1 with two walks).
Eduardo Escobar, meanwhile, isn’t far behind. Eight infielders signed free agent contracts this offseason that have an AAV of at least $10 million. Like Canha, Escobar is the cheapest, sitting at $10M flat. The other seven are Anthony Rizzo ($16M), Javier Baez ($23.33M), Trevor Story ($23.33M), Marcus Semien ($25M), Freddie Freeman ($27M), Corey Seager ($32.5M) and Carlos Correa ($35.1M).
Also like Canha, he has a higher OPS than most of them through April. Just Rizzo, Baez and Freeman have him beat. Rizzo’s start is greatly aided by the short porch, and Baez only has a marginal edge. As for Freeman, well … he’s Freddie Freeman. He’s also making well over twice as much as Escobar, just like everyone else on the list besides Rizzo.
Escobar’s clutch numbers are not quite the level of Canha’s, but they’re still really good. He brings something Canha hasn’t yet through, and that’s some more pop. He only has one homer so far but he leads the team in doubles with eight (and technically triples too with one). He also leads the team in one surprising category — walks.
Escobar has never had a reputation for walking much, putting up a walk rate of 8% last year and a career-best 8.2% in 2018. This season, it’s at 16.7%. Sure, that number probably isn’t totally sustainable, but if he can add a good on-base percentage to his already good extra-base hit power, he’ll be an All-Star caliber player.
Canha at 2/26 and Escobar at 2/20 — both with club options for a third year — are without a doubt some of the best value contracts in baseball.
The production they’ve brought at the dollar number they’re signed under is hard to find in free agency. But the Mets did it. They brought in two perfect fits to the lineup without, as Steve Cohen put it, spending like a drunken sailor.