Fantasy Free Agents: Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha

The New York Mets' lineup could look a lot different next year.

Before the offseason freeze, the Mets made a big splash by signing Starling Marte to a four-year deal worth $78M. They also added 2B/3B Eduardo Escobar for two years at $20M, and former Oakland Athletics outfielder, Mark Canha, to a two-year deal worth $26.5M. The Marlins, meanwhile, added Avisaíl García to shore up their outfield, signing the veteran to a four-year deal worth $53M.

 

Marlins Outfield 

 

A popular target to stream pitchers against last year, Miami struggled to generate much offense, especially after they traded away Starling Marte and Adam Duvall as they finished 2021 tied dead-last with the Rangers in team wOBA. Jesús Sánchez was one of their more productive hitters and will be the primary left fielder next season. The former Tampa Bay Ray prospect has power upside, but it comes with an elevated 31.1% K rate.

Garrett Cooper was very productive in limited action last year, but he ended up going down in late July with a torn UCL in his left elbow, which required surgery.

New acquisition Avisaíl García will slide in as the Marlins’ everyday right fielder. Last season, García was excellent posting what might have been the second-best season of his career (.346 wOBA/115 wRC+), behind only his 2017 season with the White Sox (.375 wOBA/138 wRC+). Regardless, we saw career highs in home runs and RBI from the former White Sox outfielder last year. His batted ball numbers were very good too, as he posted an 8.2% barrel/PA, tied 31st among qualifiers with José Ramírez. García gives the Marlins a legitimate corner OF bat, and as Sportsgrid’s Craig Mish pointed out on Twitter, it’s the biggest contract dished out by the Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman group who first took over the Marlins during the 2017 offseason.

 

The Mets’ Playing Time Last Year

 

The Mets are shaking some things up. After finishing with the third-best team wOBA in 2020 (.347), last season they fell to 21st (.307). Jonathan Villar played in just under 100 games at 3B last year for the Mets. Now a free agent, his playing time should shift to Eduardo EscobarSimilarly, Kevin Pillar was another veteran who the Mets signed to a one-year deal before the 2021 season and who ended up playing probably more than anticipated.

J.D. Davis played exclusively at 3B last year, but he did get seven starts in the OF in 2020 and 71 starts there back in 2019. He’s not good OF defensively, to put it nicely, but at the very least it gives him another potential avenue to be in the lineup. We haven’t seen Davis for a whole season front-to-back yet, but he’s slashed an impressive .288/.373 /.472 over the past three seasons combined (893 PA). He had offseason surgery to correct an issue with a ligament in his left hand, something that didn’t heal as anticipated and lingered since May. After the final game of the 2021 season, Davis acknowledged his uncertain future with the Mets, citing the potential for significant roster turnover. His undetermined role going into next year should keep his ADP low (NFBC ADP 437, 3B #39) making Davis and his excellent rate states an interesting target late in drafts for those willing to gamble that between now and the start of the season he finds a regular role somewhere.

Oh, and by the way, don’t forget about Robinson CanoUnder contract through the 2023 season, Steamer has the former Yankee projected for 410 PA. That seems ambitious, but he’s someone that, for now at least, should be accounted for. He recently made his triumphant return to the Dominican Winter League after dealing with some lower back pain.

Mark Canha will cover a corner outfield spot vacated by Michael Confortowho declined the Mets qualifying offer. Canha gives the Mets a high OBP bat. For his career, he has been slightly more productive against RHP (.343 wOBA) as opposed to LHP (.325 wOBA).

Dominic Smith was terrific for the Mets in 2020 with a .412 wOBA across 199 PA. But last year he fell flat with a .291 wOBA across a much larger sample size of 493 PA. He’s currently looking at a sizable cut in playing time, with Steamer projecting Smith for just 154 PA.

Heading into 2021, Jeff McNeil was a career .319 hitter with a .375 wOBA and 140 wRC+ across 1024 PA. The bottom fell out last year as he slashed just .251/ .319/ .360. Steamer currently has McNeil, who played both 2B and LF last year, as a part-time player next season with 386 PA. Both he and Smith have been mentioned as potential trade candidates, so what the Mets and their new GM, Billy Eppler, do will be something to keep an eye on once the lockout lifts. Similar to Davis, both McNeil (308.92 NFBC ADP) and Smith (386.12) are interesting gambles to make late in drafts for those looking to speculate.

 

The BAT Park Factors

 

 

The park factors seen here were all pulled straight from Derek Carty’s the BAT projection system, which you can find over on EVanalytics. Note that all factors are set to 1.00, indicating league average. For example, Miller Park’s home run factor of 1.06 means that it produces home runs at a rate of 6% above average.

In terms of power, García might be taking the biggest hit, as he goes from playing half his games at Miller Park to Marlins Park, whose home run factor via The Bat is tied for sixth-lowest with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium.

Last year, Escobar was traded away from the Diamondbacks and Chase Field, which has in recent years (with its humidor) become a venue that has suppressed power, as its home run factor via the Bat is tied with the Pirates’ PNC Park for the second-lowest at 0.83. After the trade to Milwaukee, Escobar found himself playing home games at Miller Park, which was on the opposite end of the spectrum with a positive home run factor of 1.06 via The BAT.

While Citi Field is a below-average park for power, it is at least a little more hospitable relative to Marte’s home parks last year in Miami and Oakland.

 

2022 Steamer Projections

 

Looking at Steamer Projections for 2022 via FanGraphs, Marte is pegged for 30 stolen bases, trailing only the mythical unicorn that is Adalberto Mondesi with 42. Even though I attempted to debate against him here, the fact is that Marte has, over the last three seasons combined, led all of baseball with 82 stolen bases. That’s three more than Trea Turner, and in 16 fewer games, too. During that span, he’s also maintained a .298 batting average, ninth-best.  Last season, the Mets tied with the Twins for 24th in steals with 54, just seven more than Marte had all of last year by himself. The Mets also hit .239 as a team (20th), so Marte should certainly help their offense be a little more dynamic next season.

If you’re in leagues that factor walks, don’t forget about Mark CanhaLast season among qualifiers, he was tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at 18th in BB rate at 12.3%. Over the past two seasons, he’s tied for 16th with DJ LeMahieu with a .366 OBP. Otherwise, his likely low batting average and modest power might make him a sort of bland option for standard formats.

Steamer has García projected for 608 PA, 34th among all outfielders. A career .270 hitter, he should get you some decent R/RBI hitting near the top of the order, and at his current NFBC ADP, he looks like a reasonable value.

During the shortened 2020 season, Escobar put up a .212/.270/.335 triple slash (.257 wOBA/ 55 wRC+), a huge disappointment relative to what he had done in 2019, and D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo did acknowledge his weight being an issue at the time. Fast-forward a year, and Escobar rebounded with a .253/.314/.472 slash line (.334 wOBA/ 107 wRC+) with both the D-Backs and Brewers. Sure, he’s not terribly exciting (6.3% barrels/PA, 63rd among qualifiers last year), but Escobar should get plenty of playing time, and he’ll retain 2B/3B eligibility making him a useful player when you’re trying to fill out rosters in deep formats. For his career, he’s been more productive against LHP (.331 wOBA) as opposed to RHP (.311 wOBA).

Photos by Cody Glenn & Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter and Instagram.)

Ryan Amore

Writer for PL, artist, DFS enthusiast, and occasional Yankee fan. Once won a GPP with Henderson Alvarez. A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club. Appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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