As the Major League Baseball offseason reached a stoppage with the inevitable lockout, free agents were signing new contracts at a record rate. Under Steve Cohen, who is amid his second offseason as the owner, the Mets fan base has seen a drastic change from the Wilpon Era.
In 2021, the Mets severely underperformed, finishing in third place, with a 77-85 record. Many Mets fans expected Cohen to be aggressive this offseason, and thus far, he has proven this to be true.
After free agent starting pitcher Steven Matz decided last-minute to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals on a 4 year/$44 million deal, instead of a return to Queens, Cohen jumped on Twitter to call out Matz’s agent and his alleged “unprofessional behavior”.
As a result of this tweet, Cohen became the laughingstock of the baseball world. Many Mets fans believed that Cohen was not willing to spend a ton of money this offseason as a result of this, given that there were better starting pitchers on the free agent market. However, just two days after this incident, Cohen would prove this to be wrong, as he would have a historic day with free agent signings.
Last week, Steve Cohen did some serious Black Friday shopping of his own, bringing in three free agent position players. Third baseman Eduardo Escobar was the first player to be announced to be headed to Flushing, on a 2 year/$20 million deal. In 2021, Escobar was selected to his first All-Star Game, and finished the season with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs, in a split-season between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers.
Escobar looks to be a valuable signing for New York, given his ability to switch hit, and play third base, second base, and shortstop if needed. Though he historically does not get on base at a high rate, he should provide more stable production at third base than what the Mets have had in recent years.
After the signing of Escobar, the Mets quickly scooped up outfielder Mark Canha, on a 2 year/$26.5 million deal. Though he is going into his age-33 season, he has built a reputation as being a good teammate, and a consistent threat to get on-base. In 2019, he had his best season, .273/.396/.913 slash line, over 126 games played. Though his production has not been as good the past two seasons, he still has gotten on base at an exceptional rate. Between 2020 and 2021, the seven-year vet averaged a .366 OBP.
Barring any injuries or significant offseason moves to displace Canha, he will be an everyday starter in 2022, and will help provide the much-needed OBP lift the Mets need in their offense.
Steve Cohen and newly appointed GM Billy Eppler did not stop with Escobar and Canha on Friday. It was announced late into the night that the Mets signed star free agent centerfielder Starling Marte, to a 4 year/$78 million deal.
While Escobar and Canha are great players and key signings for New York, the 33-year-old Marte was the icing on the cake. He is a difference maker at the top of any lineup, as he is coming off a season where he led the league with 47 steals. He also posted a .310/.383/.841 slash, which shows his ability to both hit for a high average and for some power.
Many were surprised that the Mets were able to pull off a deal with Marte, given how many clubs were interested in him. It is clear that Starling wanted some length in his deal, and New York’s willingness to sign him for four years rather than two or three seems to have made all the difference.
The last deal the Mets have made thus far this offseason was arguably the most significant in the history of MLB free agency. After being extended an offer by the Mets on Sunday, Scherzer and the Mets would finalize a historic 3 year/$130 million deal. This deal will make the 37-year-old Scherzer the only player to make over $40 million in one season. He is one of the best pitchers of all time, as he has a 190-97 record, 3.16 ERA, and 3,020 in his 14-year career.
Max is also an 8-time All-Star and has won three Cy Young Awards. Max is coming off an excellent 2021 season, as he posted a career-low 2.46 ERA over 30 starts, and led all of baseball with a terrific 0.864 WHIP. He finished third in NL Cy Young voting, and many fans believe he should have won the award.
Arguably the most intriguing part of Scherzer’s signing is the reality that the Mets now have the best “1-2” in baseball, between Jacob deGrom and Scherzer. Between 2016 and 2019, Scherzer and deGrom won two NL Cy Young Awards each. Hopefully, these two greats can stay healthy for the entire 2022 season, as it will be a joy to watch them dominate in their own special ways.
Though the lockout is here, both Mets fans and the entire baseball world have seen what owner Steve Cohen is willing to bring to the Mets in the offseason. Between Escobar, Canha, Marte, and Scherzer, the Mets have filled in so much of their holes from last season.