A position of sorrow for a good chunk of New York Mets history, third base is yet again in some rough waters. The team went into the year with Eduardo Escobar at the hot corner and Brett Baty waiting in the minors. The Mets didn't even get through April when Baty joined the 26. All felt right in Queens.
In the final days of the 2023 season, we are left with some questions. Third base isn't locked up by anyone. Baty failed to win the job and even saw himself get demoted in the second half of the season.
Answers to these questions can help us think about who'll be standing at the position when the Mets take the field in 2024.
1) Is Brett Baty right for the Mets third base job?
There isn't anyone better or more realistic to play third base for the Mets. He has the most experience within the organization at the position. While some still think he’ll end up in left field, this raises a whole new question about whether or not he can manage it or if the Mets are willing to remain patient with him at a new spot.
Time hasn’t run out for Baty to win the third base gig. However, a couple of challengers could push him down the depth chart.
2) Who will challenge Brett Baty for playing time?
Mark Vientos probably won’t make a serious enough push to challenge Baty for the third base job. He’s not a good enough defender. The Mets have given him a few opportunities to play there, but it’s a different player who will pose a bigger threat.
The way the Mets quickly pivoted to Ronny Mauricio at third base is telling. He played only two games at the position in the minor leagues. They didn’t wait long for him to get his starts there in the majors. If anyone is going to make a more serious challenge at third base, it’s Mauricio.
3) Will the Mets look outside the organization for upgrades?
In free agency, only Matt Chapman looks like an upgrade and even he had a down year offensively. His defense remains pure, but paying that much for a glove and a potential dwindling bat doesn’t seem like the wisest of moves when the Mets have as many other concerns.
The possibility of a trade is there and yet it would only really make sense if the deal included a player like Baty as a headliner. A veteran nearing the end of his contract or overpriced for what ownership wants to pay could lead to a swap. Far more proven big leaguers who haven’t reached stardom such as Ryan McMahon and Ke’Bryan Hayes are two who fall into this category.
Because options are limited externally and so deep internally, we should expect the Mets to sit on their hands a little longer. Baty has potential. So does Mauricio. We’re only seeing the latter play the position now.
Prediction: The Mets go to battle with what they already have and upgrade other positions where there won’t be nearly as many battles.