The New York Mets have made their first major moves of free agency this offseason, reportedly managing to sign outfielder Starling Marte to a four-year, $78 million deal. The signing, pending a physical, was first reported by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The move capped a busy day for New York and new GM Billy Eppler. Earlier Friday, the Mets also added free agents Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha. A major day of signings this early in Eppler’s tenure indicates he is serious about the Mets’ need to revamp.
Mets Sign Starling Marte
The addition of Marte adds a very good bat to a Mets lineup that struggled tremendously getting clutch hits in 2021. The 33-year-old center fielder split time between the Miami Marlins and Oakland Athletics last year. In 120 total games, he had a slash line of .310/.383/.458 with 145 hits, 89 runs scored, and a 132 OPS+. Marte’s greatest asset, however, is his speed. He led the majors last season with 47 stolen bases, and has a career total of 296 steals in ten seasons. He should slot in nicely at the top of the lineup, hopefully setting the table for the likes of Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor. Marte is also a plus in the outfield, winning back-to-back Gold Gloves with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015 and 2016. If all goes well, he might remind Mets fans of Juan Lagares in center.
Marte is a major acquisiton for New York, as several other teams exhibited interest in him this offseason. He had been on the Mets’ trade radar in the past, but free agency proved to be the way to reel him in. Despite how busy Eppler was Friday, adding three key pieces, it is unlikely the Mets are done making moves. True, they signed Marte to a generous contract and added Escobar to be a starting infielder. However, the team could still make a play to retain Javier Baez, who performed very well following his acquisition in July. Moreover, the pitching staff needs reinforcements following the departures of Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Loup. Signing a top-tier free agent like Marte could just be a start this offseason, but it is certainly a flashy one. Eppler’s early sense of urgency, realizing the status quo was not working, is a welcome sign.
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