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Mets agree to terms with free agents Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha

Eduardo Escobar, an All-Star this season, hit .268

Eduardo Escobar, an All-Star this season, hit .268 with six homers and an .800 OPS in the last 48 games of the regular season with Milwaukee. Credit: Getty Images/John Fisher

An already big day for the Mets became huge late Friday night when they agreed to terms with arguably the best centerfielder on the free-agent market, Starling Marte, bringing him to Queens on a four-year, $78 million contract.

ESPN first reported the parameters of the deal, which won’t become official until Marte, 33, passes a physical.

Marte, a Yankees target at this year’s trade deadline and very much a free agent in whom they were interested this offseason, hit .310 with an .841 OPS in 120 games for the Marlins and A’s in 2021 (Oakland acquired Marte, a one-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, from Miami at the trade deadline).

The news of Marte being Flushing-bound brought to a close a furious day of activity for the Mets and their new general manager, Billy Eppler who, as of Friday, had been on the job for exactly one week.

Earlier Friday, the Mets agreed to terms with versatile infielder Eduardo Escobar on a two-year deal worth roughly $20 million and first baseman/outfielder Mark Canha on a two-year contract worth $26.5 million, with a club option for a third year. Both deals are pending physicals.

The Mets, who entered the offseason with a bevy of needs, have addressed some of them. Owner Steve Cohen has made good on his promise from Eppler’s introductory Zoom news conference Nov. 19, the promise being that those needs would be met by increasing payroll. He has begun doing that regardless of whatever the specifics will be of the new collective bargaining agreement (the current one expires at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, and the industry-wide expectation is that if a new agreement is not reached, the owners will lock out the players Thursday).

"Our budget today without even signing anybody's already at $185 million or so," Cohen said last week. "So if we're going to find the right type of talent, it’s going to probably be either trades with other clubs or free agents. We don't really have a lot in our farm to supplement what we need, so it's going to require probably spending. And that's what's going to happen."

Cohen likely will have to spend quite a bit more to address the considerable holes the Mets have in their pitching staff. They are in the market for multiple starters and, perhaps, multiple relievers as well. Even with Friday’s additions, they are not believed to be out of the mix for free-agent middle infielder Javier Baez, a trade-deadline acquisition whom they have an interest in bringing back at the right price.

"I’ve let Billy know that I'm willing to, for the right deals and the right free agents, to go and get the players we need," Cohen said Nov. 19. "We want to be competitive, right? We want to win our division and be in the playoffs and get deep into the playoffs, right? So we've got to field the team that has the ability to do that, and so I've let Billy and Sandy [Alderson, the team president ] know that it's whatever they need."

The versatile Escobar, 32, who can play third, short, second and first,made his big-league debut in 2011 with the White Sox and has hit a combined .256 with a .745 OPS in 11 seasons in the majors. The switch hitter started last season with the Diamondbacks before a deadline deal sent him to the Brewers, who went on to win the NL Central by five games over the Cardinals.

Escobar, an All-Star this season, hit .268 with six homers and an .800 OPS in the last 48 games of the regular season with Milwaukee. He started 32 games at third for the Brewers and 14 games at first.

Even though the Mets had not yet announced any of the deals as of early Friday night, one of their players happily weighed in on the Escobar agreement."Man I couldn’t be more excited to have my boy Escobar with us," tweeted righthander Taijuan Walker, who was teammates in Arizona with Escobar in 2018-19. "Hands down one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. Mets fans are going to love him! Welcome my friend."

The righthanded-hitting Canha, 32, a seventh-round pick of the Marlins in 2010, has a .244 career batting average with 89 homers and a .746 OPS. He hit .231 with 17 homers and a .776 OPS in 141 games last season. Canha has played primarily leftfield in his career (263 games) but has appeared in 100-plus games at each of the other two outfield spots.

Three pitchers the Mets thought might be a part of their 2022 plans — starters Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz and reliever Aaron Loup — all recently signed with other teams. Syndergaard and Loup signed with the Angels; Matz joined the Cardinals.

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