Despite a flurry of off-season moves by teams all over the Majors – some more surprising than others – the Mets are the only team in MLB that has not signed a single free agent to a Major League deal.
They committed to franchise player David Wright by signing him to a $138 million contract extension and they traded away NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey. They received promising young prospects Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard in return, but the remainder of their off-season moves have left much to desire.
One thing is very clear. The Mets need starting pitching.
Harvey impressed in 10 starts last year and Mejia has potential – despite only one MLB win under his belt – but neither has seen a lot of action at the MLB level. The inexperience could spell trouble for the back end of the team’s rotation.
With the loss of Dickey, GM Sandy Alderson is looking for someone to take his spot in the starting rotation and he recently pointed to the free agent market as a possibility.
“I would expect that we will acquire someone who is not necessarily a swingman, but somebody to whom we’re going to have to commit a starting role,” Alderson told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
“We’re probably going to have to commit. And actually that’s one of our attractions. We have now a starting pitching opening, and we can attract the type of pitcher that we hope can get us 10 or 12 wins.”
Alderson could be speaking about someone like Shaun Marcum who has not had a losing record as a starter in the past five seasons. He fits the description of the 10 – 12 win type of pitcher that Alderson mentioned. Marcum has a history of elbow issues, which is certainly a red flag, but if he remains healthy and his price is right – something similar to the two-year, $10 million deals signed by Kevin Correia and Carlos Villanueva – the Mets should nab him.
The Mets could also get reacquainted with free agent Chris Young. The 33-year old righthander pitched 115 innings for New York last season – his most since 2007. Young could be a veteran addition acquired at a bargain basement price, but he comes with risk, having a history of shoulder and arm problems. If Alderson can get him at the price tag of $1.1 million like he did in 2011 he should go for it.
It was just two seasons ago that Jurrjens was an All-Star for Atlanta, going 13-6 with an earned run average of 2.96. The native of Curacao has since had to deal with leg, groin and shoulder injuries and saw a major decline in velocity last season. His fastball dropped from 93 mph from when he broke into the majors to 88 mph last season. Jurrjens should be had on an inexpensive one-year deal and could potentially be a low-risk, high-reward addition for the Mets if he can turn things around and stay healthy.
Aside from one really good season in 2008, Matsuzaka was a complete bust in Boston. That doesn’t mean he’s not worth a look though.
The Mets need affordable starting pitching and Matsuzaka could benefit from a switch of scenery.
The native of Tokyo is only 32 years of age and despite rumors that said he was overworked in Japan, Matsuzaka averaged 175.3 innings pitched in eight seasons with the Seibu Lions. Not too extraordinary of a number when you consider MLB workhorses average close to 200 innings per season. He does run up high pitch counts and had elbow reconstructive surgery in 2011, but he may be worth a gamble if a Marcum addition isn’t possible. According to Bill Center of The San Diego Union-Tribune, Matsuzaka “told a member of the Japanese media that money is not the biggest issue,” so he should be considered a possibility, too.
Wherever the Mets decide to go for starting pitching, it is definitely something they need to address if they hope to have any chance of contending for the NL East crown in 2013.