The New York Mets plan to have an internal third base competition. Most likely this means handing as many opportunities as possible to Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio with maybe a few chances for Mark Vientos. It's not a bulletproof plan. Baty pretty much lost his chance to secure the job last year. He’s essentially starting at the same point as Mauricio who has barely played the position or seen major league action.
Because they do have enough pieces already to make this work, the conservative plan of letting the kids fight it out isn't so bad. However, there needs to be a backup plan from the start.
The Mets should look for one veteran to add into the third base mix
My favorite choice is Gio Urshela for this job. He's coming off an injury-shortened yet productive year with the Los Angeles Angels. He already knows New York. He's a good defensive player. Paying him something in the same neighborhood as the Mets did with Tommy Pham last year with promises of earning more playing time doesn't seem totally outrageous. We just need to hope the market for him isn’t robust enough where there’s a starting job out there.
Urshela is just one name for the Mets to consider adding into the third base battleground. He works because Urshela is more than a third baseman. He can play multiple infield positions and give the Mets an upgrade on the roster over Luis Guillorme.
Urshela is one example. What the Mets can’t do is tie themselves to a pair of unproven players right from the start when they have an opportunity to add a pretty good player.
Other free agent choices go from the upper echelon of Matt Chapman to the faded talent of Josh Donaldson. Justin Turner is no longer truly a third baseman and more of a DH. The same goes for Mike Moustakas.
Interestingly, after Urshela, our old pal Eduardo Escobar makes the most logical sense. Then again, what would be the point of pulling him back into the picture? He’s not as defensively gifted as Urshela which is the real key behind this move in the first place.
A potential trade is far tougher to predict and we shouldn’t expect the Mets to give up an asset for anyone if they’ve already put public faith in the kids. There isn’t a star shortstop like Carlos Correa available in free agency this year to move over to third base. Amed Rosario may, in fact, be the best free agent at the position.
It’ll be a battle between Baty and Mauricio and hopefully a veteran like Urshela there to supply some relief. Baty can get additional opportunities at the DH spot with Mauricio filling in all over the infield. Jeff McNeil can regularly see action in the outfield as needed.