In years past, the Mets have been able to use the opening series against the Nationals to make a statement. In this simulated series, the Mets team without Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard was swept at home.
Mets actually had an early lead when Wilson Ramos hit a two out two run double in the fourth. However, the wheels came off for Matz in the fifth as the Nationals scored five runs capped off by a Kurt Suzuki two run homer. Matz was lifted when he couldn’t get the last out of the inning.
The Mets were down 6-2 entering the seventh. Robinson Cano chased Patrick Corbin with an RBI single. Amed Rosario and Jake Marisnick greeted the Nationals bullpen with RBI singles pulling the Mets to within 6-5.
The Mets had two on, no out, and they were ready to flip to the top of their lineup. For some reason, Justin Wilson hit for himself, and he couldn’t quite get the sacrifice down leading the Mets to strand the tying run at third.
An eighth inning rally sputtered without scoring a run, and the Nationals racked on two insurance runs in the ninth for the 8-5 win.
In the series, we saw the Nationals were a better team as they flexed their championship muscles. Of course, while some may debate whether that’s an actual thing, it’s most likely not in a simulation. The other key detail is while we have not seen Luis Rojas manage a game yet, we can be certain he doesn’t bat Wilson in that situation.
Overall, the Mets may be 0-3 in MLB The Show, but they’re still 0-0, so that’s something.
With Noah Syndergaard going down with Tommy John, suddenly the question isn’t who among Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha will make the rotation. No, the question now is who is up next in the event there is another pitcher injury or the need for a spot starter in the case of fatigue or other complication.
On the bright side, the Mets appear better poised than they did in 2019. On that note, that Mets team didn’t have to go that deep into their rotation as Mickey Callaway had a knack for keeping his starting pitchers healthy. He’s now gone, and now, there is the challenge of keeping pitchers healthy in an environment where pitchers ramped up to start the season, were shut down, and now have to revamp it up to pitch a season.
The first pitcher who may be up in the event of an injury is Walker Lockett. Lockett has a step up on the competition because he is out of options meaning the Mets either put him on the Opening Day roster or risk losing him off waivers.
The downside he presents is that is if he is in the bullpen, he will not be stretched out enough to pitch as a starter. The other complication is he has not fared well as a Major League pitcher. In seven starts and six relief appearances, he has an 8.84 ERA and a 1.885 WHIP.
Another Mets pitcher who has struggled in his brief Major League appearances is Corey Oswalt. Of course, the biggest issue with him is how haphazardly the Mets have handled him. One minute, he is pitching in relief on two days rest after a cross country flight, and the next, he’s not being used for over a week.
If you want hope for him, he pitches much better when on regular rest and used normally. Still, in 12 starts and seven relief appearances, he has a 6.43 ERA and 1.458 WHIP. That’s not great, but it is much better than Lockett.
Similar to Lockett and Oswalt, Stephen Gonsalves struggled in his limited Major League appearances. In four starts and three relief appearances for the Twins in 2018, he was 2-2 with a 6.57 ERA, 2.027 WHIP, and a 0.73 K/BB. After that, he had arm issues leading to his release from the Twins, and the Mets claiming him.
Gonsalves is a former Top 100 prospect who Baseball America once described as a future middle of the rotation starter who ” reads hitters well and works effectively at the top of the zone.” When healthy, he can get his fastball near the mid 90s to couple with a very good change.
The issue with him now is health, getting his stuff back, and developing a third pitch. With this being a new organization and Jeremy Hefner having familiarity with him, it is possible.
On the topic of potential, there is also former first round pick David Peterson. He has reached the Top 100 just once in his career, but he has progressed through the Mets system, and he has had a strong Spring Training.
While his stats the past two years do not appear strong with an ERA of over 4.00 in St. Lucie and Binghamton, there are other stats which show he has pitched better than his ERA. First and foremost, his FIP the past two years was respectively 2.98 and 3.19.
He has also maintained a very good strikeout-to-walk ratio while keeping walks to just 2.5 per nine in his minor league career. When looking at him, he is not a pitcher who is going to beat himself when he gets the chance to pitch for the Mets.
When he does pitch, fans will see what MLB Pipeline says is “Solid bat-missing ability and a knack for inducing weak, ground-ball contact points to more of a floor than ceiling for Peterson, but it might not take him that long to reach that potential.
Finally, there is Kevin Smith, who appears further away than Peterson after making just six starts in Double-A last year. Still, the 2018 seventh round draft pick has far outperformed what was expected of him, and with another strong showing in the minors this year, he may find himself on the radar.
Overall, the Mets have interesting options in the minors, and that is before we take into account pitchers like Franklyn Kilome, who is returning from Tommy John. In the end, the Mets are likely going to have to go to the minors for at least a spot start or two, especially with baseball likely having scheduled doubleheaders in 2020.
The hope for the Mets is these talented pitchers can put it together and put some very strong starts together when the Mets need them. Time will tell.
The concern with Noah Syndergaard having Tommy John surgery isn’t just his being gone for the 2020 season and a significant portion of the 2021 season. The larger problem from a Mets perspective is this team has not had the best history with Tommy John surgeries and rehabilitation.
The Mets don’t have to look any further than their pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Back in 2013, he was putting together a promising campaign when it was discovered he had a torn UCL. During his rehab from Tommy John, things were not going well, and it was discovered he would need to undergo a second surgery. He would only pitch one season in the minors after that before retiring.
Hefner was rehabbing at the same time as Matt Harvey. When it was discovered Hefner needed the second surgery, the Mets had eased the throttle off of Harvey who was pushing to pitch in 2014. In 2015, despite agreements on his innings limit, the Mets reneged and pushed him to pitch, and Harvey would throw more innings than anyone in the history of baseball after their Tommy John surgery.
In 2016, he was just not good with everyone trying to figure out what was wrong with him. It took a while to discover he had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Despite noticeable muscle atrophy, the Mets pitched him in 2017 leading to a stress reaction. Really, that was all but it for him as a Met and possibly his career. The big unknown is how the Mets handling of him affected his shoulder and/or aggravated or caused the TOS.
Harvey would not be the only Mets pitcher to return in 2015 from Tommy John. The other notable pitcher to return was Bobby Parnell. After discovering a torn UCL the day after the 2014 Opening Day, Parnell underwent the surgery. A year later, a Mets team hoping to stay in the pennant race activated him well before the end of the 18 month rehabilitation period. Parnell didn’t have his fastball, and his command was shot. By the middle of August, he had pitched to a 6.38 ERA before being put on the DL with arm fatigue. He’d only pitch 5.1 Major League innings after this season.
While Parnell was someone whose injury was discovered a day into the 2014 season, Zack Wheeler‘s torn UCL was discovered on the eve of the 2015 season. Wheeler had surgery, and he was slated to return in the middle of the 2016 season to help the Mets return to the postseason. During his rehab, he’d have issues with his stitches, and he would suffer a flexor strain when he was finally able to step on a mound again.
He wasn’t able to step onto a Major League mound again until April 2017, and he would have to be shut down that season due to a stress reaction in his right arm. Really, Wheeler wasn’t right until the 2018 season, which was three years after the first surgery.
A Mets pitcher having this level of difficulty in their Tommy John rehab is not anything new. In fact, that was exactly the case with Steven Matz when he was in the minor leagues. After being drafted in 2009, it was discovered he had a torn UCL, and he needed to have Tommy John surgery.
Matz really struggled with the rehabilitation, and there was a significant amount of scar tissue. At one point, they were concerned he was going to need a second Tommy John surgery. The advice was to just pitch through it. Matz would do just that finally making his professional debut in 2012. His Tommy John issues would not re-emerge until 2017 when he needed ulnar nerve transposition surgery.
When Matz underwent the surgery, he joined reliever Erik Goeddel and ace Jacob deGrom in having the surgery. With respect to Goeddel, he had Tommy John when he was in high school well before he was a member of the Mets organization. However, with respect to deGrom, he had his surgery and rehab as a member of the Mets organization.
With deGrom, he had seemingly appeared to be the one Mets pitcher who had a normal Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation. Yes, there were difficult times when he told Frank Viola he wanted to quit, but that was part of the normally grueling rehabilitation process and return. Ultimately, deGrom would become a Rookie of the Year winner, and he would introduce himself to the world with an incredible All-Star Game appearance and a postseason for the ages.
As noted with Harvey and Wheeler, Mets pitchers were dropping like flies in 2016. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, Matz went down with a massive bone spur. It was then discovered during a pennant race, deGrom needed the ulnar transposition surgery. As we have seen, the surgery went well, and after a pedestrian 2018 season (by his standards), he has returned to be the best pitcher in baseball.
Keep in mind, the Mets checkered Tommy John history isn’t just recent. Jason Isringhausen would have the first of his three Tommy John surgeries with the Mets. Looking back at Generation K, he, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher would all have arm issues leading to them never pitching in the same rotation.
The Mets haven’t had Tommy John issues with pitchers only. T.J. Rivera underwent the surgery in 2017, and he attempted to return too soon struggling in 22 at-bats. The Mets would release him, and he would play in the Atlantic Leagues for the Long Island Ducks before landing a minor league deal with the Philadephia Phillies. We will see if he can return.
Last year, we saw the Mets botch the handling of Travis d’Arnaud. Even with the team playing well with a tandem of Wilson Ramos and Tomas Nido, the team rushed d’Arnaud back to the majors before one full year of rehabilitation. He would have one of the worst games you would ever see a catcher have leading to the Mets rage cutting him.
He would first land with the Dodgers and then the Rays. Notably, he didn’t start really playing well until July, which was roughly 15 months after the surgery, which is much closer to the recommended 18 months.
This is not an extensive history, but it is a good snapshot of the struggles the Mets have had dealing with Tommy John surgeries. Perhaps, it is of no coinidence much of this has coincided with the Wilpon taking over majority control of the Mets, and as Pedro Martinez and others have noted, Jeff Wilpon’s interference with medical decision making has been a real issue.
Seeing the Tommy John problems the Mets have had, we get a better sense of why Seth Lugo was so unwilling to go through the process, and we see some of the dangers which may very well face Syndergaard as he attempts to return from the surgery before hitting free agency.
In true Mets fashion, it was discovered Mets ace Noah Syndergaard has a torn UCL, and he is going to need Tommy John surgery. With that, the Mets chances of winning the 2020 World Series, if the season is ever going to be played, just took a massive hit.
New York Mets starter Noah Syndergaard has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery in the near future, sources tell ESPN. The procedure will keep him out until at earliest April 2021 and likely into the summer months.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 24, 2020
For all the discussion people want to have about Syndergaard not fulfilling his potential as an ace, Syndergaard remained a very good starting pitcher. In 2019, Syndergaard was 18th in FIP, and he had the second best hard-hit rate in the majors. Over the past two seasons, Syndergaard ranked eighth in FIP, and he had the best hard hit rate in the majors.
Overall, while some of his stats did not bear out that way, partially due to what has been an atrocious Mets defense, Syndergaard has pitched like one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He’d be the ace on almost any other team. Part of the problem Syndergaard has with respect to how he is perceived is he is in the same rotation as Jacob deGrom, and every pitcher in baseball looks worse than they actually are next to him.
Looking at the Mets, their plan to compete for the division was rolling out a great top three of deGrom, Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman. Now, they are going to have one of the better 1-2 punches in the majors, but not the best, and certainly, no longer the best 1-2-3 combination.
Worse yet, this thrusts Michael Wacha into that starting rotation. Wacha has been shut down multiple times in his career due to shoulder issues. That includes last year. Over the past two years, Wacha was simply not good. He had a 4.76 ERA with a 1.563 WHIP. In fact, he has had an ERA above 4.00 and a WHIP above 1.350 in three out of the last four years.
This isn’t like 2015 when the Mets had Steven Matz and Syndergaard waiting in the wings. No, the rotation really couldn’t withstand an injury to one of their top three starters like this. This serves as a crucial blow to their chances of competing.
Of course, things didn’t have to be this way. The Mets could’ve taken the money being given to Rick Porcello, owner of the worst ERA in the AL last year, Wacha, Jake Marisnick, and Dellin Betances, and they could’ve just given it to Zack Wheeler. That also would’ve given them a little money to spare.
With Wheeler, who is a discount at $118 million, especially with money deferred, the Mets still could’ve had a great 1-2 combination, and even with Syndergaard going down, their 1-2-3 punch would have likely remained the best in the majors. Mostly, it would’ve allowed the Mets to better sustain this injury.
Remember, the Mets aren’t just built on pitching. No, they are built on elite starting pitching. The best staff in the majors. That took a giant step back when the Mets let Wheeler walk, and now, it’s frankly no longer the case with Syndergaard done for 2020. In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen lost sight of this, and now he lost his team’s biggest strength.
Now, the Mets are without Syndergaard, and their chances took a MAJOR hit. Now, their hopes lie with Jeremy Hefner having a profound impact on the Mets rotation, which includes, but is not limited to having Porcello and Wacha turn the clock back 5+ years and having Matz reach his full potential.
The question next becomes what happens if the next pitcher goes down. Unless Corey Oswalt or Stephen Gonsalves are ready to contribute, this all could become a disaster rather quickly. The ultimate point here is the Mets chances of winning the World Series went from legitimately possible to having a real outside shot. That’s just how much losing Syndergaard hurts the team.
At least from a Mets fans perspective, this is the worst thing happening in the world right now. Of course, that really isn’t true. There are far more pressing concerns at the moment.
On that front, one of the things Mets fans were clinging onto was the prospect of the return of baseball at some point during 2020. When that happened, the Mets had that type of rotation which could have taken them their first World Series title since 1986. Now, there may not even be that to look forward to at at time when we are just sitting around waiting for things to improve.
On a day like today, when it is reported Syndergaard won’t pitch at all in 2020, it does not seem like things are going to be any better anytime soon.
During Spring Training, there was what seemed to be a contrived race for the fifth starter spot in the rotation between Steven Matz and Michael Wacha. That was even with the case of Matz being the better of the two, and really being a better pitcher than Rick Porcello over the past few seasons.
As we were headed towards the end of Spring Training, we really had no indication of who was in the lead for the spot, and we even heard the Mets were toying with the idea of mixing and matching Matz and Wacha as the fifth starter using them based upon the match-ups.
Of course now, it is a moot point as no one quite knows when or if we are going to play baseball again. When that happens, there is going to be an abbreviated return to Spring Training before we get back to games. Typically speaking, that would be fine as players, especially pitchers, were ramping up to begin the season.
However, teams have shut down their Spring Training facilities to their players and sent them home. Players live in different areas of the country, and places where they would typically go to work out have been shut down as well to help prevent the further spread of COVID19. In the end, this means we have no idea how in shape players will be.
That’s not an issue of laziness or them not being serious about their craft. Rather, it is a practical reality based upon the reality of the situation. It is difficult to ask people to be prepared for the season when they can’t work out at a facility or work with an instructor. To a certain extent, you know they are all doing something, but it may not be sufficient.
For pitchers, that is going to be especially dangerous. As has been noted, there is a fear the ramp up, cool down, and abbreviated re-ramp up can lead to pitcher injuries. This is going to demand teams be judicious in how they use pitchers and allow them to use the earlier part of the season as an extended Spring Training.
Fortunately, the Mets are actually well-built to do that with their having six starting pitchers.
With their having six starting pitchers, they can institute a plan similar to that they implemented at times during the 2015 season. There was push-back from some of the starters, namely Matt Harvey, but ultimately using pitchers like Jon Niese in the rotation and later Logan Verrett, it did help keeps arms fresh. That was a key to the Mets winning the 2015 pennant.
That’s exactly what the Mets need to do here. They need to use a six man rotation to help keep these pitchers fresh and to help them get through the season. They can do it strategically by taking into account the off days. At times, they can mix in Robert Gsellman here and there given his presence as the long man in the bullpen, and possibly, they can use a Stephen Gonsalves or Corey Oswalt for the occasional spot start or even as an “opener” for starts made by the other pitchers in the rotation.
In the end, this is still a Mets team built on pitching, and they need to keep their pitchers fresh and healthy to succeed in 2020. That is going to require them to utilize a six man rotation at times, so in the end, it means that Porcello, Matz, and Wacha will all win a spot in the rotation.
From there, the Mets can judge based upon who is pitching best in the regular season, and they can adapt to injuries in the even they unfortunately come.
Opening Day was supposed to be on March 26. We were supposed to see Jacob deGrom outpitch Max Scherzer and out a damper on the Nationals World Series celebration. Due to COVID-19, that’s not happening, at least not yet.
This left SNY without a game to broadcast, they really have no sports to air. Really, they don’t even seem to have a plan on what to do, which is understandable.
Seeing as no one can be quite sure when baseball will be able to return, and with this being the 20th anniversary of the 2000 pennant, SNY should begin airing the 2000 season in its totality.
Each game aired on the same day it was 20 years ago. On March 29, 2020, the Mets should re-air the Japan Series with Mike Hampton taking the ball in his first ever start as a New York Met. The following day, they can air Benny Agbayani‘s Sayonara Slam.
If you recall back to that 2000 season, those games were aired around 5:30 A.M. local time. Now, those games can be aired at a more fan friendly time. Just like we normally see, begin the SNY broadcast around 7:00 P.M., and they can play the games in their entirety.
After the game, in lieu of a more traditional post-game show, they can have a retrospective. Fortunately for the Mets, they already have Todd Zeile as a studio analyst. In addition to Zeile, the Mets also have former Mets players like Edgardo Alfonzo, John Franco, and Al Leiter as team ambassadors.
Perhaps, SNY can get them to give their input of those games and/or their analysis of where the Mets were at that point in the season. Maybe, the team could also get Bobby Valentine and Mike Piazza to do some things for the team, and there is always Gary Cohen and Howie Rose who could find a way to contribute. After all, they have an encyclopedic memory of the team and all of their great seasons.
The team could even have fun with it talking to David Wright about what it was like growing up as a Mets fan and later getting to be teammates with some of these players. They could have Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and Marcus Stroman give their take of what it was like being a Mets fan in New York at this time, and they could even have some fun discussions about bringing back those black jerseys.
Perhaps, running the 2000 games during their appointed times on the schedule would give fans a reason to tune in and watch Mets baseball. After all, there aren’t any other sports that are currently being aired anywhere. This could give us all a sense of normalcy we are currently striving to find, and it could create a little fun for us all.
Right now, now one knows when baseball can return, and the elephant in the room is if it can return. No one can be quite sure of that. Until that time, SNY can deliver us baseball until we actually have real games to watch.
Just like the rest of us, Major League Baseball is at home. Players, agents, and executives are at home staring at their cell phones and laptops just itching for things to do.
Sure, there are logistics which needs to take place. Baseball executives need to work out when the season can begin. They need to ensure facilities are being properly cleaned. Players need to be tested and quarantined. There is also other matters which may need to be addressed like the draft, World Baseball Classic, and other events.
Mostly, they are going to be sitting there and waiting. After all, the things which would normally preoccupy their time during the season won’t be there. Those day-to-day tasks are really going to be left for another day. That frees up time for baseball executives and agents to start getting idle hands, and they may be itching to do things.
If you are someone like Jerry DiPoto, who is a trade proposal a minute during the offseason, you are giving him a lot of time on his hands to attempt to make more deals. It also gives teams an opportunity to discuss extensions with their players.
To a certain extent, we are starting to see it in other sports. For the NFL, it is natural as their league year began, and they are beginning the process of getting under the salary cap and looking to build their 2020 rosters. In the NHL, the New York Rangers acted to sign defenseman K’Andre Miller.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) March 15, 2020
For the Mets, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello will be free agents after the 2020 season. While it would be difficult to see extending Porcello right after giving him a one-year deal, the Mets may look to extend Stroman, especially after parting with Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson to obtain him.
After the 2020 season, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Michael Conforto will have one more season before becoming free agents after the 2021 season. Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo will be free agents the season after that. This is a significant group of players who are soon becoming free agents.
Perhaps, it would make sense to begin discussions with those players. Maybe it would make sense to talk to Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil to sign them to a deal buying out some of their arbitration years. After all, the Mets just bought some good will with Alonso with this pre-arbitration raise.
As noted, at this moment, there are some logistics Major League Baseball needs to handle with respect to the disruption and postponement of the 2020 season. Once that fog begins to clear, we’re going to be left with baseball executives with not much to do.
Sooner or later, they may get bored or antsy. As we saw with the famed story of how Joe DiMaggio was almost traded for Ted Williams, you get a bored General Manager knocking back a few scotches, and anything is possible. Very soon, every GM in baseball may find themselves in this position making everything very interesting.
With the fears over the outbreak of the coronavirus, Major League Baseball is starting to take preventative measures. Different teams have prevented their players from signing autographs for fans. When it comes to the spread of disease and the health of their players, you understand why teams are doing this.
For Spring Training, this is troublesome. This is a time where fans get more access to the players than at any point during the year. That is all the more the case with expanded netting around ballparks. With the reduced access to players, fans get less time to interact and to get autographs.
Some teams are sensitive to that, and as a result, they are having their players sign some items, and those items are going to be distributed to fans. This is something teams should think about doing year-round.
For young fans, batting practice presents an opportunity to get autographs. Unfortunately, not every player takes batting practice, and some of the better players have team obligations pre-game which stands in the way of their ability to sign and take pictures with fans before games.
As a result, some young fans aren’t going to get autographs or get to see the players they want to see. To a certain extent, that’s life. Kids are just going to have to suck it up and grow from it. However, that doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t now be thinking outside the box and using this idea to grow the game.
Take the Mets for an example.
Every Sunday, the New York Mets have Family Sundays. On Family Sundays, there are some fun activities outside the ballpark for young fans. After the game, those young fans have the opportunity to run the bases. Perhaps, the Mets could also give away some player signed items to young fans at games.
Maybe it is a box of pre-signed baseballs given to young fans as they enter the game. It could just be random giving kids a chance to grab a Pete Alonso or Paul Sewald. Perhaps, they could do themed days.
One week could be rotation week with a ball signed by Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, and Rick Porcello. Another week could be the outfield with autographs from Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and whoever else lands in the outfield. With the 20th anniversary of the 2000 pennant, there could be a ball signed by players from that team including Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Hampton, Al Leiter, and Mike Piazza.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be balls either. It could be baseball cards, or it could be other items teams have in stock and are just trying to move. In fact, you usually see that at the end of the year with the team having a wheel for fans to spin to win a “prize” which was really nothing more than a promotion they never could give away.
In the end, Major League Baseball is adapting to the threat of the coronavirus, and they are trying to make the game experience safer for their players and fans. They could take what they learned from this, and they can carry the policy through the season. If done well, they could make the game experience more fun for kids and help grow the game.
All offseason, we’re hearing Steven Matz is in a competition for a spot in the rotation. This is despite the fact he’s very clearly the team’s fourth starter. Anyone who takes the time to look at the data and trends can see it.
Remember, it’s 2020.
What matters now is Matz is better than those two. Fact is, the ONLY reason why he wouldn’t be in the rotation is the GM didn’t acquire him. Yes, it would be the only reason, and if that happens (much like Robinson Cano batting third much of 2019), it’s unacceptable.
It’s time the Mets stop this nonsense, and stop the flood of tweets, including those from reporters well connected to the Mets, and just say Matz isn’t just in the rotation, but he’s the team’s fourth starter.
After all, of the three, he’s the only pitcher guaranteed to be here in 2021, and more than that, right now, in 2020, he’s the best pitcher of the three. Considering the strides he made last year, he may even prove to be more than that.
It is not even Opening Day, and the New York Yankees pitching rotation is getting decimated. Luis Severino is done for the year after opting for Tommy John surgery. James Paxton had a microscoptic lumbar discectomy and is out until June. Throw in Domingo German being suspended for the first 63 games of the 2020 season.
Right there, the Yankees will enter the season missing 3/5 of their rotation. This has them relying on J.A. Happ more than they intended, and they are going to have to hope a couple of pitchers step up. That includes Jonathan Loaisiga, who struggled last year, and Jordan Montgomery, who is returning from Tommy John, and Luis Cessa, who has proved to be more reliable in the bullpen.
When you consider one of the more “reliable” arms in the Yankees rotation is Masahiro Tanaka, who has a torn UCL. Looking at that and everything going on, the Yankees need arms. To that end, there is no surprise the Yankees reportedly called the Mets to inquire on Steven Matz.
While it would make sense for the Yankees to attempt to obtain Matz from the Mets, it doesn’t make much sense for the Mets to trade Matz away.
Matz is the only left-handed option for the Mets rotation. He is under team control through the 2021 season, which is all the more important considering Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha are free agents after this season. More than that, Matz has potential for a real breakthrough season.
No, the Mets need Matz in the rotation in 2020 and 2021. Moreover, trading Matz runs counter to the Mets plan of building starting rotation depth over re-signing Zack Wheeler and keeping their aces together. Still, even with Matz being off the table, there is a realistic trade between the Mets and Yankees.
Walker Lockett is out of options, and realistically speaking, there is no path to him to make the Opening Day roster. This leaves the Mets in a position to lose Lockett, a player they acquired in the Kevin Plawecki trade last year, for nothing.
Instead of risking a Lockett falling to them in waivers, the Yankees could obtain Lockett now. If they did that, they get the added benefit of seeing how he works with their own coaching staff. Another added benefit to acquiring Lockett is he’s a groundball pitcher, which could be useful to a team with a good infield defense and a home run friendly ballpark.
Ideally, the Mets return could be a player similarly out-of-options. While ideal, it is not realistic as Kyle Higashioka, Michael Tauchman, and Gio Urshela will very likely make the Yankees Opening Day roster. Maybe the Yankees would be willing to part with a player like Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada, each of whom have an option remaining, but really that doesn’t seem likely for a player the Yankees could wait out to obtain on waivers.
Really, the Mets potential return for Lockett is really limited, but it is better they seek out what they can get for him now instead of risking losing him for nothing. With the Yankees, they at least have an obvious fit. The question is whether these two teams can find a middle ground, or really, if the Yankees would have any interest whatsoever in Lockett.