The New York Mets have kicked off trade season by sending veteran third baseman Eduardo Escobar to the Los Angeles Angels for two minor league pitchers. Escobar lost his starting job this season to Brett Baty, but he remained a beloved figure in the clubhouse and a dependable bat off the bench, with Francisco Lindor even calling him, "One of the best teammates I've ever had." The Mets will miss Escobar's leadership, but how does the roster figure to change now that he's gone?
I can't begin to speculate on what the Mets received in return in the deal, only to say that trying to stockpile young arms seems like a move in the right direction. It's too early to say whether this move signals that the Mets might be sellers at the trade deadline, because Escobar's role had become so diminished that trading him is nowhere near akin to waving the white flag on the season.
Dealing a veteran for two minor leaguers certainly shows that the Mets have one eye towards the future. Trading Escobar for a major league reliever, an area of desperate need for the team right now, would have shown that the team is still pushing all its chips in to make a run this year, but at seven games under .500, that wouldn't have been a prudent decision. Say what you want about the team's performance this year, but Steve Cohen is not one to make panic moves.
For the Mets, dealing Escobar for two young arms is good not only for the team's future prospects, but it also makes sense for the here and now
This is to say nothing bad of Escobar, who brought many good memories in his time in blue and orange. At the top of the list has to be his five-RBI game against the Marlins last year, when he briefly vaulted the Mets back into first place with a week left in the season. Gary Cohen's call of "It's the month of Escobar!" is maybe his best from a 2022 season with no shortage of memorable moments.
Where does this leave the Mets now? For one thing, the team is committing fully to Brett Baty as its starting third baseman. Baty has run hot and cold this year, but has flashed enough upside to deserve being locked in at the hot corner. As for Escobar's spot on the roster, it will likely go to Mark Vientos, who was sent back to AAA Syracuse 11 days ago after nearly a month in the bigs.
Vientos struggled in his time in the majors, but he never found regular playing time to get into a groove. After homering in his first game with the Mets (which also happened to be the Mets' best win of the season), he failed to go deep again, scuffling his way to a .178 average while netting only 45 at-bats in the 25 games he was on the roster.
Vientos has crushed the ball in the minors, so it's far too soon to give up on his major league prospects yet after what amounts to less than two weeks' worth of time at the plate. What makes the possibility of his return to Flushing exciting is the chance for him to receive more regular at-bats. Vientos can plug in at DH, or fill in when Baty gets a day off. By giving him a longer look, the Mets can more accurately determine where he fits in the team's long-term plans.
Though many have opined that Vientos doesn't have a future with the Mets because of his subpar defense and his standing in the hierarchy of the "baby Mets" (behind Francisco Alvarez, Baty, and even Ronny Mauricio, who has yet to see big league action), giving him a longer look could turn him into a solid trade piece if Billy Eppler decides that there isn't a long-term spot for him, possibly allowing the Mets to add even more pitching prospects to the farm system.
Even Escobar's locker room leadership and sunny disposition haven't been able to save the Mets from a season that has turned into a nightmare. Mark Vientos isn't going to save the season, but giving him another shot could pay off down the road.