The Marlins spent much of the season looking for ways to convert their surplus of starting pitchers into some help at the plate, and that quest might have ended this week when the Fish dealt Pablo Lopez to the Twins as part of a four-player swap that sent Luis Arraez to Miami. Before that move, however, Mets third base prospect Brett Baty was one of the other names on Miami’s radar, and the New York Post’s Jon Heyman reports that the Marlins were willing to offer either Jesus Luzardo or Edward Cabrera in return.
Reports earlier this month indicated that the Marlins had also talked to the Mets about Eduardo Escobar, when New York seemingly had an agreement in place with Carlos Correa. Had the Correa contract been finalized, an Escobar deal to the Marlins might’ve been been more viable, but the Mets naturally opted to hang onto Escobar once the club had some issues with Correa’s physical. Heyman writes that the Marlins’ interest in Baty existed “both before and after the Mets’ Carlos Correa deal fell through,” and it is probably safe to assume that the Mets’ willingness to move Baty also diminished in the aftermath of the Correa situation.
While there seems to be no financial limit on the Mets’ desire to upgrade their roster, Steve Cohen’s splashy dives into free agency have been related to the club’s desire to hang onto its minor league depth. While New York has moved some top young players in trades during Cohen’s two-plus years as owner, the Mets haven’t been willing to entirely clean out the farm system for proven veterans. As such, players like Baty, Francisco Alvarez, Mark Vientos, Ronny Mauricio, and prospects further away from the majors have remained in New York’s organization.
Since Correa is no longer in the picture and the 34-year-old Escobar is entering his last year under contract, Baty may once again be the Amazins’ third baseman of the future, or even present if he starts to take on a larger role in 2023. Baty made his MLB debut last season and could potentially be deployed in a platoon with Escobar this year, or might see some action in left field. As Baty recently told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, he would’ve been happy to switch positions in the event of a Correa signing, saying “I just want to be in the big leagues helping a team win.” Baty also said he feels “stronger than ever” in the wake of the thumb surgery that prematurely ended his 2022 season, and though he has been fully healed since November, Baty will be heading to Spring Training early to make up for lost prep time.
With Baty looking like a key figure in the Mets’ future plans, it would’ve taken quite a trade haul to get the team to change its mind about trading the third baseman….a haul akin to, say, a controllable and talented young pitcher like Luzardo or Cabrera. Such a trade may no longer be on the table in the wake of the Arraez move, but it would’ve been a fascinating swap of young talents, especially with the added wrinkle of the Mets and Marlins being division rivals. Either Luzardo or Cabrera would’ve added youth and long-term control to a veteran Mets rotation that currently has only one pitcher (Kodai Senga) locked up beyond the 2024 season. Carlos Carrasco is entering the last year of his contract, while Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Jose Quintana are all only guaranteed through the 2024 campaign (though Verlander has a vesting option for 2025).
Had the Marlins successfully landed Baty, their roster moves of the last few weeks would’ve naturally been quite different, and the Arraez trade likely doesn’t happen. In this scenario, Baty likely becomes the new everyday third baseman, while Jean Segura would’ve played second base rather than the hot corner. This would’ve still opened the door for Jazz Chisholm Jr. to be moved to center field, as the Marlins are seeing if the All-Star second baseman’s speed and arm can translate to success as an outfielder.