The New York Mets rounded out their first big day this offseason by reaching an agreement with center fielder Starling Marte on a four-year, $78 million contract, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Marte, 33, began last season with the Miami Marlins before a trade in July sent him to Oakland. He was excellent for both clubs, sporting career-best numbers in 2021. Marte slashed .310/.383/.458 with a .841 OPS while maintaining the strong defense in center that has earned him two Gold Glove awards.
Before locking up the best center fielder on the market, the Mets made two other moves on Friday that helped shore up their infield and outfield depth.
The team is in agreement on a two-year, $20 million contract with infielder Eduardo Escobar, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to ESPN. They are also nearing a two-year, $26.5 million deal with outfielder Mark Canha, league sources told Passan.
Canha, 32, slashed .231/.358/.387 for the Oakland Athletics last season and can play all three outfield positions as well as first base. His deal includes a third-year option, sources said.
Escobar slashed .253/.314/.472 overall last season, including 28 home runs, but was better after the trade in July. He compiled a .800 OPS for the Brewers, appearing at both first and third base.
The Mets have an opening at third base, but Escobar is likely to move around the diamond as needed. If the team doesn’t re-sign second baseman Javier Baez, Escobar could see time at second as well. He has also appeared in 329 career games at shortstop, but his most prominent position is still third base.
Unlike most switch-hitters, Escobar has been better as a right-handed batter than as a lefty. He has hit 30 points higher in his career from the right side of the batter’s box. He has also been known as a solid leader and teammate throughout his 11-year career.
Marte has played primarily center field since 2018, including all of his defensive appearances in 2021. Marte’s defensive metrics were solid in 2021 as Statcast’s Outs Above Average ranked him in the 82nd percentile (Defensive Runs Saved was less generous, putting him at minus-4 DRS). Marte will be entering his age-33 season and the only center fielder that age or older to appear in 100 games in 2021 was Brett Gardner, but Marte has the athleticism to be the rare player who can remain in center field into his mid-30s.
Escobar and Marte’s deals were first reported by MLB Network.
ESPN’s David Schoenfield contributed to this report.