Steve Cohen wanted to turn the Mets into the East Coast Dodgers and after the amazin’ overnight acquisition of Carlos Correa, the Mets now boast a roster full of All-Stars, just like their California counterparts typically do.
In recent years the Dodgers have collected a group of superstars and found roles for them. Positional flexibility is a commodity, but typically when you’re bringing in elite players you don’t move them around the diamond. But that’s what they did with players like Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger and Trea Turner.
This is also what the San Diego Padres are doing just south of the Dodgers. Their blockbuster acquisition of Xander Bogaerts shortly after the conclusion of the Winter Meetings two weeks ago will force their homegrown superstar shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr., to the outfield.
A stacked lineup should be able to hit past defensive mistakes, but if you do it right then the defense won’t be sacrificed.
It’s yet to be seen just how well Correa can play at third base since he has never played the position at any level of professional baseball. But apparently, the appeal of playing in New York City with his good friend Francisco Lindor and the opportunity to play on a loaded Mets team was enough to convince him to move from shortstop to third base.
Lindor will be around for another nine years and Correa is set to sign a 12-year deal, pending a physical, so the position switch will be somewhat permanent. So much about the contract and how it came to be after he had agreed to an even larger deal with the San Francisco Giants has been absolutely mind-boggling.
But if the Mets put up mind-boggling offensive numbers en route to a World Series during his tenure, then it will be worth it.
So, what does Correa bring to the Mets?
In the clubhouse, Correa has long been lauded for his leadership qualities. He was a key player on the Houston Astros’ 2017 World Series team at only 22 and has been described as a fantastic motivator and an extremely hard worker.
On the field, Correa produces runs. Correa had a 136 wRC+ over the last two seasons, which ranks fourth behind only Jose Ramirez, Austin Riley and Rafael Devers for qualified third baseman in that span.
An AL scout told the Daily News that Correa’s plate discipline improved in recent years and that he’s a smart player who understands that walks will boost his OPS.
Take a look at what the lineup could look like with everyone healthy:
SS Francisco Lindor (S)
3B Carlos Correa
1B Pete Alonso
2B Jeff McNeil (L)
RF Starling Marte
DH Daniel Vogelbach (L)/Eduardo Escobar (S)/Francisco Alvarez
LF Mark Canha
C Omar Narvaez (L)
The Mets had a balanced lineup last season but this one has much more depth. It’s possible the Mets end up trading Escobar in order to accommodate third base prospect Brett Baty, but for now they could keep him and use him as a DH. He’s an upgrade over Darin Ruf and he hits left-handed pitching well (.275 with a .782 OPS and 56 home runs for his career against lefties).
What the Mets do about Baty will be a key storyline in spring training. Baty was the presumed third baseman of the future, which is why Escobar is only signed through next season, and it’s not like there are any open spots in the infield with a cadre of All-Stars at every position.
Top prospect Alvarez is currently the Mets’ plan at DH against lefties but the club still has to figure out a solution for the catchers. The Mets have yet to announce the one-year contract for All-Star catcher Omar Narvaez and once they do, they’ll have four catchers on the roster. The Mets do not want to carry three catchers and a source confirmed they are looking into trading James McCann.
Tomas Nido and Narvaez each produce about the same offensively but Narvaez is a left-handed hitter.
Alvarez could be used strictly as a DH while the club brings him up slowly as a catcher, but the Mets made offseason personnel moves with Alvarez in mind so while it’s possible he starts the season in the minor leagues, it’s unlikely.
Interestingly enough, the Giants need a catcher and a third baseman, unless they plan to use former Mets infielders Wilmer Flores or J.D. Davis at the hot corner.
The Mets are looking at a few positional traffic jams right now, but the offseason isn’t over yet, and playing time has a way of working itself out. When teams are winning, players are usually happy to switch positions or play other roles for the betterment of the team.
The next step to emulating the Dodgers is to get the prospect pipeline flowing. The Mets are still a ways away from that though, so until then the club will use the best resource it has to attract top talent like Correa: Money.
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