Where does Eduardo Escobar fit in next season?

Wild Card Series - San Diego Padres v New York Mets - Game Two
Wild Card Series - San Diego Padres v New York Mets - Game Two / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

It made sense at the time. The New York Mets needed a real third baseman. They got one that could also play second base. Coming off of a down year, Eduardo Escobar could also supply the Mets with some Jeff McNeil insurance. McNeil ended up winning a batting title and Escobar saw himself hardly move away from the hot corner.

The plan wasn’t perfect, though. Escobar struggled through most of the 2022 season. It wasn’t until he returned from a late-season IL stint when he started to hit consistently and even went on to capture September’s Player of the Month award.

One good final month doesn’t make up for several weaker ones prior. The Mets have already promoted Brett Baty to the majors and we should expect to see him on the Opening Day roster in some capacity. Where does this leave Escobar?

The Mets can put Eduardo Escobar to work in different ways next season

Escobar should still see plenty of action at third base. He may even be an option at second base although Buck Showalter seems to prefer Luis Guillorme there and so should everyone else. Escobar was the team’s emergency shortstop during the period when there was a bit of a roster crunch and Guillorme was on the IL. Fortunately, Francisco Lindor didn’t need any time off. There was no need for us to hold our breath and hope Escobar could make it work temporarily.

Although far more experienced at third base and debatably better defensively, Escobar isn’t a very good defender. Another year on this earth probably won’t help either. He’s aging quickly as a baseball player. The future has already arrived and we need to know where Baty stands.

Splitting time at third base with Baty for several months can work. It allows the kid to get his feet wet. It gives Escobar needed time off to rest and maybe be more productive. Escobar could even be a DH option for the Mets. That’s only the case if he’s hitting early on in the year. Otherwise, the bench is probably the better place for him when he’s not the starting third baseman.

Escobar may be headed toward a J.D. Davis role with the team with some differences. The Mets won’t be overly cautious about asking him to play defense. He’s also a switch hitter so hesitancy to put him at the plate against righties isn’t there. Escobar was actually more productive against southpaws anyway. He hit .259/.299/.519 with 9 home runs and 31 RBI in only 174 plate appearances. Versus righties, he slashed .231/.294/.387 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI in 368 trips to the plate.

A platoon with Baty is one option to consider. It shouldn’t be so strict. Baty will need to learn how to hit against lefties if the Mets have their eyes on making him their starting third baseman sooner than later.

As for Escobar, he’ll probably see his playing time diminish and Buck Showalter hold him more accountable because of the other option they could have at the position from the start. If all Escobar becomes is a platoon player, it could be for the best. This is his last year with the Mets. Make the most of it.

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