A frenzy of MLB free-agent signings coincided with my mini-vacation to beautiful Niagara Falls, Ontario. 

Back in August, I documented my Sauble Beach foray with some baseball observations mixed in. I had no intention of journaling my experiences this time, but the rash of moves told me I should. 

Also, I had fun with it last time and, selfishly, wanted to do it again.

The Frenzy

While lounging in our hotel room, I saw some fairly seismic news scroll across the ticker. The New York Mets had signed outfielder Starling Marte and infielder Eduardo Escobar. In the morning, I discovered they also inked outfielder Mark Canha.

The haul of players represents a clear intention by the Mets front office to be contenders in 2022 and beyond. It also marks a significant upgrade of their outfield and lineup.

Marte was considered to be the most attractive centerfielder available and the terms agreed to reflect that. Marte signed for four years and $78 million. He’s coming off a season that saw him hit .310 with 12 homers and an MLB-high 47 stolen bases.

Escobar has been a highly sought-after player for some time now. He was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Brewers last season to help with their playoff push. Escobar solidifies what has been a revolving door position for Mets since the Davis Wright era.

Canha was been one of the most effective on-base specialists over the past few years. He’s developed into a reliable power hitter anas well. Over the last three seasons, he’s averaged 20 home runs with an OBP of .367.

The Frenzy Pt. 2

As tasty as the moves of Friday were, they were an appetizer to the main course that was Sunday. 

Marcus Semien, coming off a record-breaking season with the Blue Jays, signed a megadeal with the Texas Rangers. The seven-year, $175 million contract was the highest signed, by far, this offseason. 

While they haven’t come close to contending in recent years, Texas has money to spend and an ascending farm system. They will be a team on the rise in the future.

Toronto was able to soften the blow of losing Semien by reportedly singing Kevin Gausman. The frontline starter sets the Jays to have a top-tier rotation in the AL, especially if they also retain Robbie Ray. 

The Seattle Mariners were another team to solidify their middle infield over the weekend. They traded for 2B/OF Adam Frazier, who’s coming off a terrific season split between the Pirates and Padres. 

Suddenly, the AL West is looking like one of the most intriguing divisions in baseball.

The Fare

On our way to the falls, we stopped in at Bench, a brewery in Beamsville. Their beer selection is divided up into two sides, clean and funky. I must’ve been in a funky mood because I ordered a flight of beers from the funky side. They were all on the stronger side, including one that was over 11%.

I accompanied my flight with a beef dip. Shaved top sirloin, caramelized onions, and mushrooms, rosemary studded brisket jus on an Italian Panino. Tender and juicy.

Once settled, dinner plans were considered. We landed on Tacos and Tequilla, a four-plus star rating average and a four-minute walk from our hotel. Got the “three amigos”, chips with queso, guac, and salsa and fish tacos. The chips were hot, fresh, and perfectly seasoned.

The Falls

Got a chance to walk along the path along Niagara Falls and the experience had a profound effect on me. Looking at something so powerful, mesmerizing, and beautiful made me feel things. 

There’s a Christmas-themed festival of lights display set up and walking through it was a highlight of the trip. 

On our way back upstairs, in the elevator was a young man with black shoes with white stripes. On the bottom side of the shoes, he had written, I presume, “Vans” in thin black marker. I couldn’t help but compliment him on this upon my exit.

The Frenzy Pt. 3

A trio of smaller, though possibly still impactful moves were consummated over the weekend. The Boston Red Sox added Michael Wacha to their pitching staff on a one-year deal. Boston was able to patch together a rotation with the likes of Martin Perez and Garrett Richards in 2021, both of whom are since gone. They’ll hope for similar value from Wacha.

Reliever Héctor Neris signed a two-year contract with the Houston Astros. The move helps offset the loss of Kendall Graveman, who joined the White Sox. 

The Blue Jays and Yimi Garcia came together on a two-year, $11 million pact. The bullpen was often a reason the Jays lost games in 2021, they’ll hope Garcia can be part of the solution.

The Fare Pt. 2

Drove into the lovely Niagara-on-the-Lake on Saturday. Last time in town, I’d bought some flavored coffee from Victoria Gallery & Teas, maple syrup, and creme brulee. I was determined to get back and purchase a larger portion. 

Afterward, to Exchange Brewery for a yummy IPA, Party Line, and some take-home cans. Next, Counterpart Brewing, which offered up the best fare of all, another IPA, “Flow”, and a pork shoulder Sammy on focaccia. Delicious. 

I enjoy writing about my travels and of course baseball. Here’s hoping the impending CBA deadline doesn’t mean these are the last deals for a while.

Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed it! Check out more of my articles here and other Belly Up content here. Follow me on Twitter here.

About Author

Graeme Wallace

My name is Graeme Wallace and I love Blue Jays baseball! I grew up with the World Series Championship teams in '92 and '93. There were some lean years in between but some good ones too, all leading up to Jose Bautista's epic bat flip in 2015. I'm so excited to be on the Blue Jays beat for Belly Up Sports!

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