Once again, there are rumors the New York Mets are pursuing Trevor Bauer, and once again, there is a debate whether Bauer is worth it. While most of those debates focus on the personal, it rarely focuses on the budgetary.
Yes, we all know Steve Cohen has more money than the Wilpons, and he’s far more invested in winning. That said, even he has his limits, and he didn’t get this wealthy by just throwing money around like the Yankees when they see a Boston Red Sox player past their prime.
For the Mets, they have to best decide how to invest in players and the team. Looking at it from that perspective, you really have to wonder why the Mets would even bother contemplating signing Bauer.
MLB Trade Rumors projected Bauer could land a four year deal with a $32 million AAV. There have been claims Bauer could surpass Gerrit Cole‘s record $36 million AAV. Long story short it appears it’ll take approximately $30 million per year to sign Bauer.
Looking at the current Mets pitching staff, both Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That means the Mets will need to make a decision whether they want to re-sign one, both, or neither.
With Stroman and Syndergaard missing 2020 for differing reasons, Zack Wheeler is an interesting comp. Entering free agency, Wheeler had a strong season-and-a-half. From June 1, 2018 through 2019, he had a 3.26 FIP, and there was the expectation he would improve.
As a result, entering his age 30 season, he received a five year deal with a $23.6 million AAV. Syndergaard, 27, and Stroman, 29, ate slightly younger than Wheeler when he hit free agency. Syndergaard (3.25) has a better FIP than Wheeler over his last two years, and Stroman’s (3.79) is worse.
Given that and a number of other factors, we could well see Stroman and Syndergaard sign deals with an AAV comparable to Wheeler. For the sake of using round numbers, let’s say it’ll take $25 million per year to extend both Stroman and Syndergaard.
In 2020, because Stroman accepted the qualifying offer, he will make $18.9 million. Syndergaard and the Mets settled his final year of arbitration at $9.7 million.
That means, if the Mets were looking to give Stroman a deal with a $25 million AAV, he’d get a $6.1 million raise. For Syndergaard, that’s a $15.3 million raise. Combined, that’s $21.4 million.
Looking at it purely from a pitching perspective, the Mets could give Bauer $30 million, or they can use $21.6 million to keep Stroman and Syndergaard. That’s $8.4 million which can then be used for a Brad Hand or another area of need.
Keep in mind, that $30 million doesn’t have to be used for starting pitching. In addition to Stroman and Syndergaard, the Mets will see Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Seth Lugo, and maybe even Jacob deGrom hit free agency over the next few years.
Taking all that into account, you really have to wonder why the Mets would be pursuing Bauer. In reality, it’s a gross misallocation of resources. For what the Mets could give Bauer, they could keep two better ones and have money left over to further invest in the team.
Maybe the Mets still want Bauer, and maybe, they even sign him. Whatever the case, the Mets really have to make sure he’s worth all that comes with him, and given the expiring contracts, all that will likely go.
In reality, it’s far better to keep Stroman and Syndergaard than to sign Bauer. Hopefully, that’s the path the Mets pursue.
Sean Gilmartin is looked upon much differently for many different reasons, but back in 2015, he was an important piece of the Mets bullpen. That was not necessarily expected.
Gilmartin was a Rule 5 pick from the Atlanta Braves. While the converted minor league starter was first expected to be a left-handed reliever, he turned out to be a key long reliever in the bullpen.
During that 2015 season, he was 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, and an 8.5 K/9 in 49 relief appearances and one start. In 14 of those appearances, he went multi-innings. With that, he was an important piece of the bullpen who ate innings for what was a shallow bullpen for most of the year.
That long man role has been oft overlooked, but it is of vital importance. We’ve seen it through Mets history. The 1999 Mets had Pat Mahomes. The 2006 Mets had Darren Oliver. As noted, the 2015 Mets had Gilmartin.
The 2021 Mets could have Joey Lucchesi.
Lucchesi has pitched in parts of the last three seasons with the San Diego Padres, and he has not quite distinguished himself. Overall, he’s made 58 starts and one relief appearance going 18-20 with a 4.21 ERA, 1.280 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 9.3 K/9.
With a 96 ERA+ and a 4.21 FIP, it’s not quite fair to claim he’s a bad starter. However, looking at him, he’s really in a three way battle for that fifth spot when Noah Syndergaard returns.
Looking deeper, the question is how to best utilize the Mets roster this year. Yes, depth is important, and there is the option to put Lucchesi and David Peterson in Triple-A. While that may work for Peterson who needs more time to develop, it may not be what’s best for Lucchesi.
Looking at Lucchesi’s career numbers, opposing batters hit .233/.293/.397 the first time through the order. They hit .233/.288/.406 the second time. The third? Well, it is an ugly .312/.395/.548.
That’s a large reason why he’s averaged just five innings per start in his career. In the modern game, that’s not bad at all, especially from your fifth starter.
Still, like with Seth Lugo with his increased velocity and ability to fully use his curveball as a weapon, there is the question of whether Lucchesi would work better in the bullpen.
Going to Baseball Savant, Lucchesi’s unique churve is a lethal weapon getting a 38.6 Whiff% in 2019 and 47.4 in 2020.
While a phenomenal weapon, Lucchesi really doesn’t have a third pitch to pair with it and what is really a mediocre fastball. At 27, there’s a real question if he could ever develop one to be a truly viable starter in the long term.
However, in the bullpen, Lucchesi and his churve could become elite. He could be a left-handed version of Lugo. Pairing the two together gives the Mets the ability to mix and match them and not leave them struggling to figure things out on those days Lugo is understandably unavailable.
Overall, the Mets need to gauge how to best utilize all of their pitchers and build depth. That depth is both for the bullpen and rotation. It’s not remotely an easy decision, but Lucchesi in the bullpen is one the Mets should very strongly consider.
Now that Francisco Lindor is a member of the New York Mets, the team now has to try to find a way to sign the 27 year old superstar to a contract extension. This is the move the Los Angeles Dodgers made with Mookie Betts just last year.
Its also what the Mets once did with Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza. Those moves resulted in a World Series, two pennants, two NL East titles, and four postseason appearances. Keeping Lindor can very well have the same impact on the Mets going forward.
However, it’s more than just Lindor. The Mets have key pieces of their core ready to hit free agency after this year.
First and foremost is Michael Conforto. In 2020, Conforto emerged as a true leader for this team and a potential future captain. Since moving past his shoulder injury, he’s re-established himself at the plate with a 135 OPS+ over the past two seasons.
Another homegrown Mets player who will be up for free agency is Noah Syndergaard, who will be returning from Tommy John at some point in 2021. Before suffering that injury, he was arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball.
From his debut in 2015 – 2019, Syndergaard was 10th best in the majors in FIP and WAR while having the second best hard hit rate. He’s also a pitcher who thrives on the big stage. He was the last Mets pitcher to win a postseason game, and in the last Mets postseason game he arguably out-pitched Madison Bumgarner over seven innings.
At 28, he’s still young and in his prime. This is the type of pitcher teams usually move to make a part of their franchise for as long as they possibly can.
Joining Syndergaard near the top of the Mets rotation and free agency is Marcus Stroman. Like Syndergaard, the 2017 World Baseball Classic MVP was born to pitch in the big game and on the biggest stage.
What truly stands out with Stroman is not just his positivity, but his tireless pursuit to improve as a pitcher. That is exactly the type of pitcher who not only tends to improve as years progress, but he’s the type of pitcher who has a positive impact on teammates.
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) December 29, 2020
In terms of advanced stats like FIP and WAR, he lines up as a number two starter. However, he’s someone who you trust against another team’s ace. He’s not good, and he’s not getting outworked by anyone.
Right there, the Mets have four extremely important pieces due for an extension. After 2020, their two best position players, and two of their best three starters hit the free agent market. If the Mets truly want to rival the Dodgers, they need to move to lock these pitchers up long term.
That’s easier said than done. Some of these players may want to test the free agent market. Steve Cohen’s pockets aren’t bottomless. There’s also the matter of other players on the team.
Steven Matz will also be a free agent. After the 2022 season, Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo will be free agents. Jacob deGrom can opt out of his contract after 2022, and the Mets have a team option on Carlos Carrasco.
Overall, the Mets have to make a number of extraordinarily important decisions on players on their roster over the ensuing two seasons. They need to balancing being able to extend those players with adding another huge contract.
By the looks of it, obtaining Lindor hasn’t completed the big moves for this Mets offseason. Rather, it means their work really has just begun.
The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers have an interesting history. For fans of the original Mets team, many of them were originally Dodgers fans.
That includes Fred Wilpon, who built a ballpark in testament to those Dodger teams. Of course, that was resented by younger more modern Mets fans who have zero recollection of those Brooklyn teams.
For Gen X fans and younger, the history of the Mets and Dodgers is quite different.
There was the Dodgers upsetting the 1988 Mets. That was a painful series highlighted by David Cone perhaps riling up the Dodgers, Davey Johnson leaving in Dwight Gooden too long with the ensuing Mike Scioscia homer, and Orel Hershiser‘s virtuoso performance.
The 2006 Mets got some measure of a payback in the NLDS sweep. That was a total beatdown with former Dodgers Shawn Green and Jose Valentin relaying to former Dodger Paul Lo Duca who tagged out Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew at home plate.
Things between these two teams really ratcheted up in the 2015 NLDS. That all began with Chase Utley living up to his reputation as one of the dirtiest players ever with his tackling Ruben Tejada at second thereby breaking Tejada’s leg.
The bad feelings of that series carried forward into the next season when Noah Syndergaard was ejected during a nationally televised game after throwing a pitch behind Utley. Utley would get the last laugh with Terry Collins being revered years later when the ejection video was released.
After that, things calmed down. That was due in large part to the Wilpons ineptitude taking the Mets out of contention. During that time, the Dodgers became the model franchise finally breaking through and winning the 2020 World Series.
Now, with Steve Cohen at the helm, things promise to be different.
With Cohen comes real financial heft which arguably surpasses what the Dodgers have. We’ve seen early on what that means with the Mets already signing Trevor May and James McCann as well as being in the market for George Springer and Tomoyuki Sugano.
But, it’s not just the financial strength. It’s also the scouting and analytics. The Dodgers have used that to identify players like Max Muncy and Justin Turner who have become relative stars. They’ve also developed an enviable pipeline of talent with young players like Gavin Lux and Will Smith.
The Mets have started heading in that direction by bringing back Sandy Alderson. They’ve also hired Jared Porter as GM and Zack Scott as Assistant GM.
Of course, the Mets have retained perhaps the best draft scouting with Mark Tramuta, Tommy Tanous, Drew Toussaint, et al. That group is responsible for great talent like Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and Dominic Smith. That’s nothing to say of the talent still left in the system and traded away.
The Mets have the core, financial resources, burgeoning front office, and now the right ownership for the Mets to become a juggernaut like we haven’t seen from this franchise since the 1980s. They will very soon rival the Dodgers on and off the field.
That is going to lead to some more postseason run-ins. With that will be the heightening if tensions between these franchises which have already had their moments.
If the Mets make the right moves, we’ll see an epic postseason clash between these teams come October not just this year but in each of the ensuing seasons. The seeds are already there, and so, with more epic postseason series, we’ll see the makings of a bitter Mets/Dodgers rivalry.
The concept of the untouchable player is a fallacy. That goes for any player including Mike Trout. For the right price, even he could be traded.
That said, when we talk untouchable we mean a player who can’t be replaced on the roster. In terms of the Mets, there’s only three such players on the roster.
First and foremost, Jacob deGrom is untouchable. Not only has he established himself as the best pitcher in baseball, but he’s also on a very reasonable contract. There’s nothing on the free agent or trade market available where you can replace him.
The next untouchable player is Seth Lugo, and last season is exactly the reason why. In Lugo, the Mets have one of the best and most versatile relievers in baseball. He can pitch multiple innings, get a key out, and get the save.
If you’re in a jam, Lugo can also start. No, he is not nearly as dominant as a starter. However, he can be stretched to be either a dominant opener or a competent fifth starter. Looking across baseball, there really isn’t another pitcher who offers that, not even Josh Hader.
Finally, the Mets last untouchable is Jeff McNeil. He’s that mostly because his versatility allows the Mets to build the best possible roster.
McNeil is a good defender at second and left. He can hold his own at third and right. He’s a unique batter in this era in that he’s up to hit, and he puts the ball in play. In McNeil, you’re getting a modern day Ben Zobrist in the field and a slower version of Ichiro Suzuki at the plate.
In these three players, the Mets have truly unique players whose skill sets cannot easily be replicated. In fact, you can argue, their skill sets cannot be replicated. At their relative prices, it’s nearly impossible.
As for the rest of the roster, while there are extremely good players across, they just don’t rise to this level.
While you may want to argue Pete Alonso or Dominic Smith, they are both first baseman. In fact, they’re both All-Star caliber first basemen. Unfortunately, there’s just one first base, and there’s no DH.
Andres Gimenez is very promising, but this is an organization with a lot of shortstop talent. That includes Amed Rosario, who is a capable MLB starter, and Luis Guillorme, who deserves a fair shot to play everyday.
Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are approaching free agency soon, and the corner outfield position is one which can typically be filled easily. On that note, McNeil can fill one of their spots if necessary.
Like Conforto, Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard are pending free agents making them more movable than they otherwise would be. Also on the pitching front is Edwin Diaz. You’ve seen reason to believe in him and believe he can’t handle New York. At the end of the day, he’s a good closer, but the Mets can always obtain one of them in free agency.
So, overall, the Mets have a deep and interesting roster. However, there are many holes across the roster. Looking at this roster, short of deGrom, Lugo, or McNeil, any of these players should be on the table to address any of the deficiencies this team has.
Realistically speaking, due to notes depth issues, the New York Mets will need to sign at least two more starting pitchers, perhaps three. There are plenty of options available, but perhaps, the Mets best plan is to look to Japan.
In terms of MLB pitching free agents, one of the most prominent names available is Masahiro Tanaka. For many reasons, a Tanaka and the Mets make a lot of sense.
For Tanaka, joining the Mets would mean not completely uprooting his life because he can stay in New York. Additionally, with the Mets having Seth Lugo, he’s be joining an organization who knows how to manage a pitcher with a torn UCL.
For the Mets, Tanaka makes sense as well. Tanaka is a pitcher who has shown he can handle New York. Also, for a team with World Series aspirations, Tanaka has real postseason mettle.
In terms of ability, Tanaka is a strong three or four starter right now. Since tearing his UCL, he’s been a 111 ERA+ and a 4.04 FIP pitcher with a 1.8 BB/9 and an 8.3 K/9. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 5.2 innings per start.
You don’t want to go too long on a contract with him. He does have that torn UCL, and he is 32. According to Baseball Savant, his velocity and spin was well below league average.
That said, he again had exceptional control and generated a number of swings and misses. All told, this is someone who knows how to pitch, is an acceptable third starter, and as a fourth starter is about as good an option as there is.
Depending on how you structure your offseason, Tanaka could serve another role too.
The Yomiuri Giants have posted ace Tomoyuki Sugano. As noted by MLB Trade Rumors, the 31 year old is “a six-time All-Star in Japan and a two-time winner of NPB’s Sawamura Award — their league’s equivalent of MLB’s Cy Young Award.”
Sugano impressed in the last World Baseball Classic, and it’s expected he could be a fourth starter. That could work well for the Mets.
If not Sugano, the Mets could pursue the 28 year old Kohei Arihara. Arihara arguably has better better league stuff than Sugano with a mid 90s fastball. As noted by Sports Info Solutions, Arihara not only has a strikeout pitch with his splitter, but he also “uses a low-80s slider against right-handed batters and mixes in a cutter, changeup and curveball against lefties.”
Overall, Arihara’s repertoire sounds similar to Tanaka’s. This would give Arihara someone to talk to in order to see the adjustments he needs to make from Japan and how to better utilize his arsenal against MLB hitters.
Of course, Tanaka could serve that role as well for Sugano. Depending on what the Cubs would want for Yu Darvish, the Mets could look to pair one of Tanaka, Sugano, or Arihara with him.
The point is there are successful Japanese born pitchers who are thriving in MLB. They have insight on how to help one of the posted Japanese pitchers adapt and thrive here as well.
By adding two starters, the Mets will significantly improve their rotation. There’s another added benefit as well.
Having two Japanese starters would give the Mets in-roads in marketing in Japan. During the time of COVID19 and with the Wilpons leaving the books the way they did, the Mets should be looking for every possible revenue source.
In the end, adding two Japanese starters would make a lot sense for the Mets. It improves the team, and it could also increase revenues permitting them to be able to find more money to spend at the trade deadline or in the ensuing offseason.
With the state Brodie Van Wagenen left the Mets, this was an organization in desperate need for pitching. On that front, the Mets under Sandy Alderson’s competent leadership, the team is off to a great start.
Yes, Stroman is that. From 2014-2019, Stroman is in the top 30 in WAR and top 40 in FIP. There’s other ways to quantify, but this firmly establishes him as a clear cut number two.
Stroman is only part of the solution. Beyond him, the Mets still need to build the rest of their pitching staff. On that note, the Mets just signed Trevor May. Simply put, that was a great move.
May has been one of the best relievers in baseball. Over the last three years, he ranks 12th among all relievers in K% and 13th in K/BB%. His 3.24 WPA ranks 22nd among relievers in this time frame.
Over that time frame, May is 10-4 with a 3.19 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 12.0 K/9. He also has a 3.56 FIP and 140 ERA+.
This is a process helped along by his working with Jeremy Hefner. The two worked well together in Minnesota, and they promise to do so again in New York.
This is the type of reliever you can plug into the eighth inning in front of Edwin Diaz. With those two innings fully accounted for, Seth Lugo can be better unleashed as the weapon he can be out of the bullpen.
This singular signing moves the Mets bullpen from giant question mark towards solid to reliable. This is exactly how to start building your team.
That’s an important note too. Unlike prior years with the Wilpons, this is the start, not the finish. Typically, May would be the coda to the Mets free agent shopping, not the salvo.
Right now, the Mets have Stroman and May. That significantly improves the 2021 roster. It’s just a start, but it’s a fantastic one at that. Seeing how Alderson has begun, we should be excited for the next move.
The New York Mets have to effectively rebuild much of their pitching staff. Put another way, they need to find a number of quality innings from their pitching staff. That’s why they should be considering Gio Gonzalez.
Getting the obvious out of the way, Gonzalez is not an answer in the rotation. In fact, he hasn’t really been that since the first half of the 2018 season.
Yes, Gonzalez did pitch effectively for the Milwaukee Brewers starting late in that 2018 season. However, they used him as a roughly four to five inning starter. This year he wasn’t even that for the White Sox.
Gonzalez lasted four starts before being moved to the bullpen. With his starting the year with a 6.00 ERA and being unable to pitch at least 5.0 innings at least once, he forced the White Sox hands. In some ways, they did him a favor.
After getting moved to the bullpen, Gonzalez made seven appearances pitching to a 2.53 ERA with him striking out nearly a batter over 10.2 innings. During this stretch, his innings pitched ranged from 0.1 to 3.2 innings.
Sure, it wasn’t all perfect with Gonzalez having a paltry 1.11 K/BB ratio. He also sputtered at the end allowing runs in two out of his last three appearances. Still, when you look at the whole picture, he’s an enticing bullpen option.
One major reason why is the three batter rule. With that rule, it is increasingly difficult to carry LOOGYS. Still, when you have a division with Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, and Juan Soto, you need left-handed relievers who can get big left handed bats out.
In his career, Gonzalez has dominated left-handed batters limiting them to a .228/.299/.346 batting line. He has also more than held his own against right-handed batters limiting them to a .243/.325/.374 batting line.
Now, his splits against right-handed batters have fallen off since his top 10 Cy Young finish in 2017, he did limit right-handed batters to a .212 batting average since being moved to the bullpen.
One reason why is Gonzalez still has good stuff. According to Baseball Savant, Gonzalez posted terrific exit velocity and whiff% numbers. His hard hit percentage and curve spin were also quite indicative of what you expect to see from a strong reliever.
On the subject of Lugo, we’ve seen the immense value in having a multiple inning reliever in the bullpen. Lugo’s ability to do both this and close makes him a Swiss Army knife. It’d be great for the Mets to add a left-handed compliment. That’s what Gonzalez could be.
In some ways, Gonzalez could be akin to what the Mets got from Darren Oliver in 2006. In many ways, Gonzalez and Oliver compare favorably.
Both pitchers are fastball/curveball pitchers at their core. They both had control issues throughout their career. Both starting working out of the bullpen in their age 33 seasons.
The question for Gonzalez if he’ll accept the role in the bullpen to lengthen his career like Oliver did. When that happened, Oliver both prolonged his career and helped the Mets win the division.
Gonzalez may have that chance now. He could be the left-handed compliment to Lugo. He could be a key reliever. He could very well be a key piece to a team popping champagne at the end of the 2021 season.
With Marcus Stroman accepting the qualifying offer, the Mets have another top of the line starting pitcher to pair with Jacob deGrom. Arguably, their rotation is fine as is, especially with Noah Syndergaard due to return after the All Star Break. That said, ideally, the Mets want Seth Lugo in the bullpen meaning the team needs to sign one more starter.
Right now, the popular choice among Mets fans is Trevor Bauer. For a few reasons, he’s not the ideal choice for this team.
First and foremost is cost. Yes, this is no longer the period of austerity with the Wilpons. Still, even Steve Cohen presumably has his limits.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts Bauer will sign a deal in the vicinity of four years $128 million ($32 million AAV). That is a lot of money to tie up in a soon to be 30 year old pitcher. That goes double when you consider the Mets other needs.
This offseason, the Mets need to probably add at least one more starter. They also desperately need a real CF and a catcher. Past that, the team needs to build a bullpen again. Bauer at $30+ million a year encumbers the ability to build a complete roster.
When you look past 2021, Bauer further damages the Mets ability to build a complete team.
After the 2021 season, Stroman, Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, and Steven Matz will be free agents. After that season, deGrom can opt out, and Brandon Nimmo will be a free agent. This is part of the core of this Mets team. It may be difficult to keep all of them as is. With signing Bauer to a mega-deal, it really restricts the Mets ability to do that.
This is especially noteworthy because Brodie Van Wagenen stripped the Mets farm system. The players the Mets could’ve had come through the ranks to replace some of these players are gone. That puts an increased importance on keeping the talent on the roster on the Mets.
Another important note with Bauer’s expected contract is it may very well be a poor investment relative to what’s available on the market. Consider the numbers of the following pitchers over the last four years:
- Bauer – 132 ERA+, 3.52 FIP
- Charlie Morton – 127 ERA+, 3.27 FIP
- Masahiro Tanaka – 103 ERA+, 4.23 FIP
- Jose Quintana – 106 ERA+, 3.86 FIP
- James Paxton – 115 ERA+, 3.30 FIP
That’s just five of the options in a fairly deep middle of the rotation market. Looking at Bauer, he may be better than the group, but he’s not $20 million better. Not even close.
That goes double when you consider his numbers prior to his beating up on HORRENDOUS offenses in a shortened season. From 2017 – 2019, Bauer had a 124 ERA+ and a 3.60 FIP.
Those numbers put Bauer a clear step below Morton who is likely to sign a shorter term deal for roughly 1/3 of the AAV Bauer is going to receive.
Yes, it can be argued Bauer is younger and might’ve unlocked something. However, it’s far from a guarantee, and his expected contract will pay him like his 2020 will be repeated over the next 3-4 seasons.
If you’re the Mets, that’s a bad bet to make with so many areas of the roster to address this year and with their need to lockup their homegrown stars. Taking all that into account, the Mets really need to pass on Bauer and get an equally talented pitcher which would also permit them to truly pursue J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, and the other top free agents.
Make no mistake, Steven Matz was an unmitigated disaster in 2020. He had a very good start on the second day of the season, but he just kept getting worse and worse.
He had a 44 ERA+ and a 7.76 FIP. He allowed 4.1 homers per nine. His 9.68 ERA was unseemly.
Under no circumstances would you tender a pitcher like him a contract. You non-tender him and make decisions from there. However, the Mets are not really in a position to non-tender him, and aside from that, it would be unwise to non-tender him.
For starters, the free agent starting pitching market is a mess. Beyond Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, the pitchers available are really not guaranteed to be any better than what Matz could give you on what will essentially be a one year deal.
As an organization, you’re in a better position to take a pitcher you know and work with him than go with another pitcher and start from square one. On that note, the Mets should be better equipped to get Matz right.
Entering next season, Steve Cohen has promised to beef up the Mets analytics departments and to upgrade the Mets technology. This means Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and even Phil Regan have more at their disposal to get Matz pitching to how we know he can.
We’ve seen that Matz not too long ago. In the second half of the 2019 season, he seemingly turned the corner.
While working with Regan and Accardo, Matz finished the season going 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA over his final 13 starts. This wasn’t a complete anomaly for Matz. At different points of his career, he’s shown this ability.
Matz was this good in 2015 through the first half of 2017. Again, he had a strong first half in 2018.
There’s a lot you can take away from this. It’s certainly possible injuries took their toll. Maybe, even to this point, he’s battling inconsistency. It’s also possible the Mets increasingly worse defense have had an impact on him. There’s many possible theories and explanations which can be proffered.
Lost in any of them is Matz is a good pitcher who has shown the ability to be a quality Major League starter. For a brief moment, it did appear as if 2020 was going to be the year he took his game to the next level.
During Spring Training, there were reports of his having increased velocity and being ahead of where he’s been in previous seasons.
The first thing Luis Rojas mentioned about Steven Matz's performance in Camp: his increased velocity.
Said he's been mid-to-upper 90s with really good velo differential on his curveball.
"I was pumped," Rojas said.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 21, 2020
The best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, was impressed with Matz before the 2020 started saying Matz was pitching “maybe the best I’ve seen him in a long time.” (William Bradford Davis, New York Daily News). He also said of Matz, “I think the upside’s unbelievable.”
That’s the real issue with Matz – the upside is there. It’s incumbent on them to unlock it.
Again, based on the free agent market, there’s not a definitive better option. Also, due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s stripping the Mets pitching depth for no good reason, there’s no one coming through the Mets pipeline to help in 2021.
That leaves keeping Matz as a necessity. They need to figure him out, or possibly, make him a left-handed Seth Lugo in the bullpen. With the state Van Wagenen will be leaving the Mets, that’s it.
Matz is a real asset. With Cohen, they’ll have the people and technology in place to help Matz take his game to the next level. With Sandy Alderson, they have the people in place who were able to help get consistent performances from Matz.
In the end, the Mets need Matz. They should be preparing to tender him a deal and set him up for his best season yet. If for no other reason, there’s really no better option available.