The Mets’ 2023 plan for third base has evolved despite not actually changing at all.
I mean, do you remember the whole Carlos Correa thing? How he was going to play next to Francisco Lindor for the next decade? No, I don’t remember that either (I’m kidding).
After things fell apart and Correa re-signed with the Minnesota Twins, the Mets were left with the same mixture of guys for the hot corner. Eduardo Escobar is the veteran, while Mark Vientos and Brett Baty are the prospects with experience there.
Baty is viewed as the future at the position for New York. But when will the future officially start? Baty landed in the big leagues on August 17th last season, making his presence felt by hitting a home run in his first plate appearance.
He appeared in 11 games for the Mets before needing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. In 42 plate appearances, Baty slashed .184/.244/.342 with a 71 wRC+. Nothing worth drooling over, but it was interesting to get a glimpse of the sweet swing everybody talks about.
Looking ahead to 2023, it’s all but a certainty that Baty will be in big-league camp during Spring Training. One would imagine New York will give him every opportunity during Grapefruit League action to see if the 23-year-old is deserving of an Opening Day roster spot. But if that doesn’t happen, when could we see Baty in the big leagues again?
As part of a mailbag, MLB.com prospect expert Jim Callis provided some insight on Baty’s defense and his immediate future:
Brett Baty’s ability to hit for average and power made him the 12th overall pick by the Mets in the 2019 Draft and has established him as one of the best young offensive prospects in baseball. When he was a Texas high schooler, there were questions about whether he’d be agile enough to remain at third base or outgrow the position. He has answered them by working to become a capable defender at the hot corner, where his strong arm is his best asset and his range is decent.
Baty won’t win any Gold Gloves at third base, but he’s can play there for a while. Among Mets prospects who could wind up at the hot corner, he’s a lesser defender than Ronny Mauricio but better than Mark Vientos. New York should give him its third-base job at some point in 2023 because he’d offer more offense and at least as much defense as 34-year-old incumbent Eduardo Escobar.
Callis isn’t reporting any breaking news from a source here or anything. However, this might be what the Mets try and do with Baty this season. Mostly because it’s what they did in 2022.
If Baty doesn’t light the world on fire in Spring Training and make the Opening Day roster, he should play every day in Triple-A. While he did make the jump to the majors last year, Baty pretty much got there straight from Double-A. After slashing .312/.406/.544 in 89 games for Binghamton, he made a quick six-game pit stop in Syracuse before meeting New York in Atlanta.
Between that and the unimpressive numbers during his big-league cup of coffee, he could benefit from more time in Triple-A. This would let the Mets see how the offense looks and if Escobar’s strong 2022 finish carries over to 2023.
If the Mets need another jolt of offense, Baty could provide that by getting promoted in the late spring/early summer. And if he can run with the job, it’d make Escobar a valuable utility player who could still accumulate consistent at-bats as the designated hitter.
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