Mets Money Would’ve Been Better Spent On Zack Wheeler

If you look at the Mets bullpen, the theme appears to be “If.” If this bullpen is healthy, and if this bullpen performs to its full potential, it is going to be one of the best in the game.

The flip side of that is if it isn’t, we’re going to see more of the same.

Still, you can absolutely go to war with a bullpen of Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Michael Wacha, and Robert Gsellman.

In some ways, this is reminiscent of the great 2006 bullpen which added Billy Wagner, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, Chad Bradford, and Darren Oliver.

Then again, it could be the disaster that was the 2007 bullpen which had added Scott Schoenweis, Ambiorix Burgos, and Aaron Sele.

That’s the way it is with bullpens. You just try to acquire as many quality guys as you can, and you hope it works. Perhaps with Jeremy Hefner, this is more primed to work.

One thing we do know is starting pitching can help a bullpen. The deeper starters can go, the less you need to go to the well. This keeps your relievers healthier and fresher which hopefully leads to better productivity.

That brings us back to what the Mets have opted to do with their pitching this offseason.

In signing Betances, Wacha, and Rick Porcello, the Mets have spent $23.5 million guaranteed. That number rises to $30.5 million if Wacha hits all of his incentives.

That $23.5 million figure is important because that’s just a hair off of what the Phillies are paying Zack Wheeler per year.

Essentially, the Mets believed Porcello plus a reclamation project in Wacha and Betances. With Betances, remember prior to the Achillies, he had dealt with a shoulder impingement and lat issue all through the 2019 season.

Even when Betances did return, he admitted to his stuff and velocity not being there. That was before he partially tore his Achilles.

Yes, Betances is an arm well worth the gamble. Not only has he shown the ability to flat out dominate, but he’s also shown the ability to do it in New York. That’s important.

Still, you really have to wonder about the wisdom of rolling the dice on three relievers when you’re already rolling the dice on two relievers who were supposed to be your top two relievers. Add to that the significant downgrade from Porcello, who you’re also rolling the dice on, from Wheeler, and you’re left wondering if this was the best allocation of resources.

That does double when you consider Wheeler stays in the division making the Phillies significantly better.

Ultimately, the 2020 bullpen and pitching staff as a whole may be better. Then again, the bullpen could be more of the same with the pitching staff as a whole far worse.

Of course, the Mets bullpen could’ve remained the same and been far better as a result of Diaz adapting better to New York, and the elimination of the super ball helping him, Familia, and the rest of the bullpen.

That’s the gamble the Mets took. They decided on adding a group of lesser pitchers being better than the known quantity in Wheeler.

It’s not a smart bet, but it’s still possible the Mets bet pays off. No matter what, the Mets better be right here.

49 thoughts on “Mets Money Would’ve Been Better Spent On Zack Wheeler”

  1. Oldbackstop says:

    It is not the same risk at all, because Wheeler wanted five years guaranteed, and most of the ones you mentioned are one year with maybe some flavor of year two option.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      All of the pitchers they acquired are significant question marks. That’s a risk.

  2. LongTimeFan1 says:

    I’d rather have 3 with proven upside for the price of one, and Brodie did so shrewdly with short-term, team friendly contracts.

    It also looks like we’re getting Cespedes back.

    We’re far deeper with the 3 signings. Signings that include 2016 AL Cy Young, and 2 all stars. All have postseason experience, one has a ring, and all are 32 or younger for the 2020 season. They’ve been there and done it. If healthy, we should get solid performance from all. All are motivated to rebound.

    Oldbackstop is also very much on point with Wheeler wanting 5 guaranteed years at 118 mil.

    Phillies assume risk longer term. Are they getting first half or second half Wheeler? Torn elbow tendon and ligament Wheeler, or 195 inning Wheeler?

    The signings od Porcello, Wacha and Betances also inject a newness and fresh energy into the player pool.

    I’m excited. Very New manager, some new coaches, Marisnick with his speed and defensive chops. And the scary that is Cespedes who’s running and doing baseball activities and is pushing to return.

    And I think Brodie’s still looking to make additional moves. I think one or more trades are coming. Also more signings.

    When all is said and done, we may have the best roster in the NL East – if not all of NL.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      The Phillies are getting the Wheeler of the last two years while the Mets are getting three pitchers far removed from their top performances.

  3. Oldbackstop says:

    Was a new team even able to get insurance on Wheeler? Were his previous injury areas exempted?

    What was the premium? They START at ten percent, I have read. That is 11 million.

    This is all a very dark area that is a huge element in any 5+ year signing. And… Brodie knows the answers…we don’t.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Can’t get insurance on cheap one year deals, and they’re not getting anywhere near Wheeler’s production

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        You don’t NEED insurance on cheap one year deals, you need it when you give a guy with an injury history in his 20s a 118 million deal into his mid 30s.

        Porcello and Wacha are younger than Wheeler. If they can go back to just 2018, their combined record was 25-9.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Is this about insurance or fielding the best team?

          Because if it’s about the best team, Wheeler makes them that

  4. oldbackstop says:

    Wacha is a 28 year old former All Star. Porcello is a 30 year old former Cy Young winner. Stroman is a 28 year old former All Star.

    Wheeler is older than all three, and has been even close to being an All Star. At the All Star break in 2019 he was 6-6 with a 4.69 ERA. (your nemesis Vargas was 6-5 with a 3.69 ERA in his stats to that point)

    I doubt he will deliver value worth that contract.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      How is the 29 year old Wheeler older than the 3 year old Porcello?

      Also, why are we using All Star appearances o yesteryear instead of FIP over the past two years to assess pitchers?

    2. Oldbackstop says:

      Also, in the last five years Porcello has made 159 starts, and Wheeler made 77.

      If you asked your average Mets fan to define Wheeler’s career in one word, it would be “injuries.” Why would you want that guy deep into his 30s, guaranteed for 118 million? Especially if you couldn’t insure him.

      You know how much that is? If you had 118 million dogs, you would have 118 MILLION DOGS.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Now do the last two

        1. Oldbackstop says:

          Did any other team but the Phillies, who made two disastrous free agent pitcher moves last year, come anywhere near that money and commitment?

          Wheeler had a very mediocre first half last year. Let’s see what he does with the Phillies.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            White Sox offered more money, and there were other teams bidding.

        2. Oldbackstop says:

          What you have to realize is the 23 mil Zack got would bring the Mets right the the luxury tax, while they had many needs beyond that to be competitive in 2020.

          So what, I know you feel@ they pay ten points on the overage. But in 2021 they pay 25 points. In 2022 they pay 50. Every year you want them to sign Harper, Cole, Machado….as they come into this area of contention, they have to resign or extend Thor, Conforto, Rosario….

          In a few years, when you are really competing, you are looking at 50 points on everything over the limit. Once that clock starts, you have to stop it by giving up a year. You would be doing that in the prime of deGrom, Thor, Alonso etc

          You never have understood that. The luxury tax has a clock.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            Why should I care about the luxury tax, especially when the Mets are well under it?

            I’d also note the Mets don’t have the foundation beyond 2021.

  5. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Two things seem all but inarguable. One, the Mets inevitably ad hoc approach over the last decade and their difficulty judging talent right in front of them left them unable to sign Wheeler when he was a low or even a medium cost option.

    It left them unable to recognize at the start of the 2018 season that they had one of the better pitchers in the game. That in turn left them unable to offer him a very small guaranteed contract in the 2017-18 offseason that would have guaranteed him a pleasant lifetime’s security and have locked him up through team options into at least 2022. It left them unable to offer him a modest deal at the 2018 ASB, too, when Wheeler had shown he was making his way back; or at the end of 2018 when the talk was that even 3/45m was probably much more than his one good year warranted.

    Two, the current Mets team even after the Betances signing is not any better than the March 2019 Mets. Given how many things went well for the 2019 team that stalled at around .530, that’s… well, it’s not good.

    This just isn’t a contender, not as currently constructed. The rotation’s 1 through 6 gave their teams 114 below league average starts by ERA in 2019. Those same 6 had only 64 above average starts in 2019. Contenders are only very, very rarely built this way.

    Should the Mets have signed Wheeler? That’s difficult to say. They clearly should have had a FO capable of weighing its future payroll and needs and figured that gambling on Wheeler as of the 2018 ASB made solid good sense. They could have backloaded the deal, of course, and paid little until Cespedes was off the books. Given the blunder of not signing Wheeler earlier, if they had decided as of the Stroman acquisition that, as now seems obvious, they weren’t going to sign Wheeler, then they should have been in on Cole Hamels, who at 1/18m satisfies any need for a short deal while giving them a starter who was both good in 2019 and who projects as significantly better than Porcello and Wacha.

    Then, at 3/55.5m, in Keuchel, there was the straddle between someone like Porcello, who has a great chance of being awful, and the now-expensive Wheeler. In sum, the Mets seem to have bought themselves the worst of the worlds possible to them.

    —In any event, you can’t build an ostensible contender like this. With the Mets decent but nothing special offense, you can’t then give 76 starts to pitchers with below average ERAs as they did in 2018; give 70 such starts in 2019; then for 2020 go out and get nothing but guys with below average starts on their 2019 resumes and hope to contend. Could they get very lucky? Sure. But this isn’t how a contender is built. This isn’t a team that has any realistic chance of winning 90.

    —And if anyone wants more misery, the Mets lost more games because of the back end of their roster than probably any other contender. Every team loses games because of the worst 20-25 players out of 50-55 they put on the field, but good teams hold it to a couple of losses from those players. The Mets, on the other hand, lost 7 games from such players.

    Despite this, there has been no overhaul of the Syracuse roster that will provide most of those players.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      After what the Mets did to Dilson Herrera and Devin Mesoraco, no one of real value is going to sign a minor league deal with the Mets unless they literally have no other options.

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        What did they do to Dilson? Seems like the Mets gave him a chance to come back after he failed with the Reds. Then he had a good year last year and chose to opt out twice in search of a major league deal, and the Mets took him back twice. Then they made him a free agent and he got a deal with somebody early this month, I forget who.

        Mesoraco, I get that he felt there was a verbal agreement that he would come up. But I also can understand that the Mets don’t agree, and that they just can’t let everybody shoot their way out of a minor league deal.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Mets told Dilson if he stayed with the organization he was going to get called up. They reneged on the deal much like they did with Mesoraco.

          If this is the way the Mets choose to do business, it’s going to have long standing ramifications.

          1. LongTimeFan1 says:

            Mersoraco deserves what he got – banishment to the inactive list all season for refusing to report to the minors. The contract he signed stipulated he had to report if sent there. End of story. All other vets signed to minor league deals with spring invites honored their deals. Had Mets given Devon his wish to be released, they would set the tone for others not to honor their contracts.

            Going forward, the value of minor league deal with spring invite greatly declines for vets hoping to sustain their careers and return to the majors at least, in September. With roster expansion capped at 28, there are few opportunities and likely to go only to those on the 40 or already spent time in the majors that season.

            As for Dilson, I never read Mets promised a call up and seriously doubt they did. That’s not how minor league call ups work. It’s based on needs and fit during the season, not guarantees. That’s why there are opt outs if not called up by a certain time period which Dilson exercised. While I think they should have called him up, it’s Mets prerogative not to for reasons unknown to us.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            No, players do not get what they deserved when they sign deals based on false misrepresentations from the team.

            Mesoraco and Herrera were outright lied to by the organization.

            This is not how you conduct your business as a team, and the Mets completely lacking integrity will cost them.

    2. Oldbackstop says:

      @Blair, hey bud!

      As I recall, the Mets had some sort of discussion with Wheeler’s people around midyear. Remember, at the All Star break in 2019 Wheeler was 6-6 with a 4.69 ERA.

      I agree that Wheeler should have been the priority last year, but everybody was tied up in the deGrom drama that he caused to get paid two years before FA. Then Wheeler’s people are looking at 35 million per year and thinking they deserve somewhere higher than other’s might.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Your blaming deGrom for anything is just bizarre

        1. LongTimeFan1 says:


          I’m already over Wheeler to the Phillies. I think we’re a better with Porcello, Wacha and Betances and am excited about that.

          As long as they’re healthy, I expect bounce backs, quality pitching like they all have proven multiple times in their careers. All are incredibly motivated, thrilled to be Mets, and two are local guys including Porcello who is true blue Mets fan since his youth.

          He’s also an innings eater who has identified what the problem was last season – arm slot and location, dropping elbow and wasn’t adequately using 4 quadrants.

          We’ll see what kind of season Wheeler has and whether that 5 year contract works well for the Phillies. They’re counting on him to be co-ace with Nola. He had 3.96 era this season. Wacha has career 3.91 ERA, and a 3.20 era in 2018 surely is recent.

          Porcello has lifetime 4.36 era but also era’s in the 3’s, and 200 innings three times.. He’s been good enough to win CY Young in 2016. No reason he can’t have another fine season after making necessary adjustments in mechanics and approach. In his Cy Young season, he was throwing more fastballs and fewer sliders. I have no doubt Jeremy Hefner has studied that and a myriad other things to help get him back on track.

          Had Mets extended Wheeler, that high would quickly wear thin as status quo and no-doubt massive complaints Mets haven’t done anything this offseason but keep team the same. I’ll take 3 pitchers with upside on short term deals for the price of one #3 pitcher with big upside and serious injury history locked in for 5. This depth in pitching just makes us better.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            I don’t get this narrative where Porcello and Wacha have upside. Both pitchers have been in decline the past three years while Wheeler is trending up.

          2. Oldbackstop says:

            You don’t get how a Cy Young boomer and an All Star in their late 20s have bounce back upside?

          3. metsdaddy says:

            Looking at the trends, and the Mets internal structure, no.

            That goes triple for Wacha.

      2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        @Oldbackstop — Hey, man! Just fyi i cross-posted with you on the Merry ChristMets article.

        Agree it looked far from clear with Wheeler as of the ASB how good he’d be. Just wishing my team would make a habit of figuring out when to buy low and take the judicious gamble on their players.

        –But, yeah, if Wheeler’s people were being unreasonable even when he was hardly in top form as of the 2018 and 2019 ASBs, then there’s not much you can do. The idea is to split risk, not take on all or nearly all of it, as I’m sure you know.

        Still, fwiw, I would have loved to see the Mets go with their front line talent and a rotation of deG, Thor, Wheeler, Stroman, and Matz and shoot for 90 with that level of pitching to go with their slightly above average offense. Then I’d feel a lot better about the marginal wins gotten by dealing away our #4 and #6 prospects for Stroman.

  6. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Of course they have upside. I stay clear of trends and evaluate circumstance, history, drive, health, work ethic, mental make up, statcast, smarts, physicality, age, mechanics, approach, skill, open-mindedness, adjustments and talent. I look for the source of struggle and how to fix that in players with the tools and health to succeed.

    Porcello for instance has very similar fastball velocity average as he did in his 2016 CY Young season. Averaged 90.2 in 2016, and 90.5 in 2019.

    Wacha’s fastball average last season is very similar to much of his big league career. 93.1 in 2019, a tad down from 2018 at 93.5. But similar to 2013, 2014, 2016 at 93.5, 93.2, 93.2.

    Wacha just has to get healthy and reduce his BB rates to what it was earlier in his career.

    Wheeler’s indeed trending up in half seasons, and has the talent and beautiful mechanics to become an ace or #2. It just hasn’t consistently happened thus far. The Phillies are paying him big bucks on 5 year deal for what they hope he will consistently be. The Mets wanted to bring him back but not on the type of deal he would get on open market.

    His shoulder fatigue, DL stint and 4.71 era on 7-26-19 before trade deadline nixed his trade value. He’s very talented, and is getting paid for that talent, rather than consistent performance. Now there’s pressure on him to be “the man,”not just a #3.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      What hurt Porcello was a terrible Red Sox infield. He’s facing a very similar problem with the Mets. Things get exacerbated by Ramos being a terrible fit for him.

      As for Wacha, the Mets have never been a place where players go to get healthy. There’s very good reason for that.

      Despite everything I’ve seen people say about Wheeler, he’s going to be just fine in Philadelphia. In fact, he’s primed to take off working with a good catcher and having a better defense behind him.

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        Both Wacha and Porcello signed here voluntarily, believing this is great place to get back on track. They have access to the same info as the rest of us – and then some.

        The 2019 Mets starting rotation made 154 starts.

        There’s also a new cutting edge pitching coach and manager.

        Porcello’s problem the past few seasons was the long ball. Adjusting his mechanics and pitching approach, and getting out of the AL East, should hopefully fix that.

        Whatever happens with Wheeler will happen. He’s now a division foe. He has one year with Realmuto who becomes free agent thereafter and hopefully signs with us with Cohen majority owner.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Porcello largely signed with the Mets to fulfill a childhood dream, which I applaud.

          Wacha signed here likely because no one showed any interest, nor should they.

  7. LongTimeFan1 says:


    I suspect Mets did not promise Meso the job if he was outplayed in spring training even if D’Arnaud went on DL. Nido indeed outplayed him and Meso passed through waivers unclaimed by 29 other teams. Mets had every right to send him to minors per his contract which he signed.

    Here’s What Mesoraco’s Agent Said After Meso Opted Not To Report After Passing Through Waivers::

    “He feels as if he was — not misled, because the team certainly had a right to make whatever decisions they wanted on personnel,” Abbott said. “But with what was communicated to Devin, I would think they might be willing to make an exception.”

    As for Herrera, can you provide proof they promised him a call up?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      With respect to both I can tell you promises were made to both, and in both instances, the Mets reneged on their promises.

      I was told this by multiple people in the know.

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        Herrera hit .184/.268 /.414/.682 in the majors in 2018 after early August call up, through season’s end, and then had .584 OPS performance in winter ball, and Mets promised him call up after signing him to minor league deal?

        That sounds rather far fetched considering his stats with the Mets the last time he played in majors weren’t much better.

        If i’m not mistaken, Dilson didn’t even get spring training invite on that contract.

        Dilson Herrera had high K’s but otherwise a solid 2019 AAA season on offense, and was signed by the O’s to minor league deal on December 5th. . There’s no indication on their transaction page or elsewhere, that he got spring invite even from very bad team.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          After he opted out, the Mets told him to stay, and he’d be called up next. Instead, the team went with Guillorme and then Haggerty over him.

          1. Oldbackstop says:

            Who told him he would be next up? Brodie? Wilpon? Callaway? A farm director? Minaya?

            Haggerty had 98 stolen bases in the past three years in the minors. The Mets were pretty much the slowest team in the NL
            He was the smart play.

            Major league ‘promises” are worth the paper they are written on.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Right. The Mets word is completely worthless. We all know that now.

      2. Oldbackstop says:

        I also have Special Secret Knowledge that Meso was a miscommunication and Dilson was twice released to seek a free agent deal, and his value was proven by the total lack of interest. Then the Mets nicely took him back.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          I actually have the info.

  8. Oldbackstop says:

    My Secret Knowledge outranks yours, in fact openly mocked your secret sources.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Trolling again

    2. Oldbackstop says:

      My Secret Unsourced Knowledge guarantees me domination over all future debates.

  9. Oldbackstop says:

    Since you have Secret Insider Knowledge withe Mets, can you answer this question?

    Who had a higher WAR in the first half of 2019, Jason Vargas or Zack Wheeler?

    Let’s see how good your sources are!

    1. metsdaddy says:

      My sources tell me you’re trolling

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        @Metsdaddy – Hey, I just had a minute while working and your note caught my eye: “In some ways, this is reminiscent of the great 2006 bullpen which added Billy Wagner, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, Chad Bradford, and Darren Oliver.”

        That got me looking, and I was reminded exactly how insane that bullpen was. It was nuts. The 2006 pen got 372 appearances and 418 innings from their top 6, with an ERA+ around something like 160. That’s the equivalent of 2 seasons from starting pitchers at a Cy Young winning level. Those 6 went 27-13, btw.

        They had to be that good. The Mets offense was 8th in OBP and the team got 41 starts from a total of 8, I guess you’d call them ‘6th starters’ (though 10th starters might be more apt), guys like Jose Lima (0-4 in 4 starts w a 9.87 ERA), Ollie Perez (7 starts, 6.38), and Alay Soler (8, 6.00). The Mets had only one 6th starter, Bannister, with an ERA under 5.00. 5 guys had 6.00 ERAs or worse, but somehow they fluked into a collective 11-15 record.

        Btw, that team’s pyth record was just 91-71, but it wouldn’t have mattered. The NL had no superteams that year. No other teams that won 90, in fact, which I had completely forgotten. Those Mets had an awful bench. They were sluggers and a bullpen, to oversimplify. And a front five rotation that shows how you can get it done when all 5 starters keep you in games (and give way to that bullpen).

        —–Thanks for spurring a pleasant recollection. For some reason Wainwright freezing Beltran that year never bothered me. It was a great pitch, and a fair beat. I’ve been on the ‘Beltran for the HOF’ train since his age 34 season, and sometimes you just lose. Don’t we say great pitching beats great hitting? If that’s not true for a given pitch, and a given at bat, then when is it true? I’m dreading him as a manager, though.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          I’m glad to spur a pleasant memory.

          As for Beltran managing, I’m cautiously optimistic even if I would’ve gone with Joe Girardi or Eduardo Perez.

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