Mets Signing Michael Wacha A Waste

When you’re operating on an austerity budget like the Mets are, you can’t afford to just throw away or gamble with their money. Cheap for its own sake is not going to fly. No, the team needs to be shrewd and deliberate.

Signing Michael Wacha was neither of those things.

Many will note it’s just $3 million guaranteed, but that loses the point. As noted by Tim Britton of The Athletic, Wacha can earn an additional $7 million in incentives. As such, with the way the Mets operate their team, for budget purposes, they’re likely going to treat Wacha as a $10 million player leaving them with only $3 million to spend this offseason.

That’s $3 million to build a bullpen, add depth, and get insurance for Wacha’s spot in the rotation. They need that insurance because Wacha missed the postseason with a shoulder injury. It was the second time in four years his season ended due to a shoulder injury.

The shoulder issues are just part of the problem. The larger problem is Wacha shouldn’t be relied upon on as a team’s fifth starter. He’s not striking many out, and when you dig deeper, he has an unacceptably poor 1.97 K/BB.

Turning the attention to Baseball Savant, Wacha doesn’t have Major League quality stuff anymore. His fastball velocity and spin are poor. The spin on his curve is poor as well.

About the only pitch he really effectively executes is his change. To the effect, it’s been quite effective with batters only hitting .199 off of it. The problem is batters hit all of his other pitches well.

The end result was Wacha making 24 starts and five relief appearances going 6-7 with a 4.76 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, and a 7.4 K/9. Notably, over his last 10 starts of the season, Wacha only lasted five innings three times, and he didn’t pitch at least four innings three times. Due to his shoulder injuries, he would also be left off the postseason roster.

Overall, Wacha between his injuries, stuff, and really, just his ability was not deserving of anything more than a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Wacha was the guy who needed to prove he could be healthy. For that matter, he needed to prove he was a Major League caliber starting pitcher again.

Instead, Brodie Van Wagenen gave the CAA client a guaranteed deal worth $3 million with the potential of an additional $7 million in incentives. This makes little sense for an injured pitcher with little to no upside, and that is before you consider how he’d be negatively impacted by the Mets defense or Wilson Ramos behind the plate.

At the moment, Wacha is in a boat with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as all three are preparing to be starters with them each likely being in the bullpen to start the year. That was made all the more certain with Rick Porcello signing, which as previously explained, is not set-up for success with the Mets.

Right now, there are so many possibilities including these two signings paving the way for a trade of Noah Syndergaard or another starter. No matter what, the Mets appear to be relying upon Wacha in some fashion for 2020. Given his injuries and where his talent is now, this is really just a waste of money.

13 Replies to “Mets Signing Michael Wacha A Waste”

  1. Bonbolito says:

    Wacha might not be such a bad idea after all. Part of the trouble the Mets have had for at least the last two seasons has been burning through the bullpen when the starting pitching struggled to make it past the fourth inning. Having another long guy besides Lugo and Gsellman for Beltrán to go to can’t hurt.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Why not just sign one of the good relievers available instead of just signing a bad injured pitcher?

      1. Bonbolito says:

        Financial limitations that you’ve cited in previous posts would keep them looking to do things on the cheap. I also believe that the Wilpons love catching lightning in a bottle. Their advisor, Omar Minaya, has some history of success at doing just that. The R.A.Dickey situation in particular was such a success that I think they’re hooked on the feeling of getting something from nothing. I can’t say that I blame them; it’s only natural. The problem with trying to catch lightning in a bottle is getting burned most of the time, which the Wilpons also have a history with.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          I do think you raise a very fair point with Omar being very adept at identifying players who could be had on the cheap and getting huge performances out of them.

  2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Wacha’s not a bad signing at the price in a vacuum, but lacking a 5th starter, his signing meant the Mets went out and got themselves a #7 starter when they lacked not just a 5th starter, but a 6th starter. Then they backed up and got Porcello, a player in obvious decline, who has a very good chance of being worth very little in 2020. Between them Wacha and Porcello were worth a paltry 1.3 bWAR in 2019, combined for an ERA and a FIP over 5.00, and there’s more reason to believe they’ll get worse than get better.

    All told the Mets spent $13m to $20m just on at best #6-type starters, when Cole Hamels got 1/18m. Or when Craig Morton last offseason got 2/30m. Add in the largely pointless signing of Marisnick and the Mets frittered away $17-24m on players who won’t be driving them towards the postseason.

    This is their tendency. Instead of getting a premium player–which you can obviously get if you’re willing to spend in the $17m-24m range and which would have kept Wheeler in the rotation had the Mets made a move any time between the end of the 2018 and 2019 seasons–and trusting to judgment wrt to finding in the minors or foreign leagues 5th OFers who can handle CF, they piddled away what turned out to be a goodly amount of money on filler.

    The Mets did the same thing in the 2017-2018 offseason, when instead of getting an All-Star level starting pitcher, they didn’t realize what they had in Nimmo and spent 13m AAV on Bruce, and 9m AAV on Vargas. They did the same in the 2018-2019 offseason when they picked up Ramos and Lowrie for more than Grandal’s AAV.

    In short, had they spent the money they’ve largely set on fire this offseason on Wheeler, they’d have the recipe that has won more than a few World Series: a decent offense, around average with 3 strong hitters and 3 decent ones, and the best rotation in the game now that Cole has gone to the Yankees: deGrom, Syndergard, Wheeler, Stroman, Matz. That has a very respectable chance of getting them to the postseason. This team, though, with only 3 pitchers with much chance of posting even a league average ERA? It has a respectable chance at 84 wins.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Wacha is not a bad signing if you’re the Tigers, who are looking for reclamation projects to flip, or the Yankees, for whom $3 million is a rounding error.

      For a team who doesn’t understand the concept of a sunk cost and has very limited resources, this was just a bad decision.

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        Another drawback to all this, given the Wilpons don’t understand sunk costs and play players according to salary, is that Porcello will be given more chances to fail than Wacha and probably Matz. My other guess is that Wacha will start the season in the pen, even if Matz’s stuff is more suited to short stints. Wacha in the pen makes it less likely his incentives will kick in.

        Hey, does this mean Matz is getting moved? It shouldn’t. He’s not making real money, yet, and the chance of Porcello + Wacha pitching fewer than 250 innings has to be pretty good. Still, there’s no way payroll is going to sit at 205m. Will they package Matz (and a minor leaguer if necessary) with Familia and Lowrie to get out from under?

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Matz turned a corner when he moved to the middle of the mound. Seeing him pitch to close out the season, I wouldn’t have his ceiling as low as you have it.

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