Preparing For a Matt Harvey-less 2014

Mets logoIt’s sad to see our Ace get hit with an injury the year before the Mets were “Ready to Compete” but… if you think about it, it could have been worse.  Imagine if we had traded Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler for offensive help (Like Giancarlo Stanton or Carlos Gonzalez) in the offseason and Harvey gets this (basically inevitable) injury in Spring Training?  Or in June or July?  The point is, as bad as this injury is, the Mets are in a better position than they might have been in.


That’s simple.  The Mets still have approximately $40 Mil to spend in the offseason and now they can look to spend part of that money in the only area for the 2014 free agent market that isn’t extremely shallow.

The starting pitcher market is actually pretty interesting.  Here is a cheat sheet of names to consider:

  • Bronson Arroyo (37)Because of his age he might accept a one year deal but I’m really not sold on Arroyo being much more than an innings eater at this stage in his career.
  • Scott Baker (32)Currently scuffling in rehab… pass.
  • Erik Bedard (35)I think Bedard is a reasonable option but reminds me too much of getting Chris Young or Shaun Marcum for me to be excited.
  • A.J. Burnett (37)Burnett is a different pitcher in the NL and I think the Mets might think about signing him to a 1-year deal.  I also think that Burnett can get 2 years on the open market.
  • Chris Capuano (35) – [$8MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout] I don’t see the Mets going back to Capuano.
  • Chris Carpenter (39)Would the Mets take a risk on a low budget signing that might not actually pitch?  Probably not.
  • Bruce Chen (37)How about not?
  • Bartolo Colon (41) I can’t see the Mets taking on a guy north of 40.
  • Jorge De La Rosa (33)A solid season in Colorado likely earns De La Rosa a 2-year deal.  He might be worth the investment as an innings eater.
  • Scott Feldman (30)The options for innings eaters are plentiful.  On the one hand, the Mets might look at adding one regardless of Harvey but none of these guys make up for Harvey.
  • Gavin Floyd (31)PASS!
  • Jeff Francis (33)I don’t think this is the direction we should be looking.
  • Freddy Garcia (37) NO THANKS!
  • Jon Garland (34)Yum!  Innings… can I eatz them plz?
  • Matt Garza (30)Allow me to introduce Harvey option A.  As the most expensive candidate in terms of length of contract etc… I don’t think Garza is the right fit for the Mets.  I anticipate Garza getting at least a 3-year deal if not 4 or 5.
  • Roy Halladay (37) – [$20MM vesting option] The Phillies will probably not look to bring the aging star back.  He’s not the “Ace” he once was, but if he can return healthy in 2014 he’s an interesting option to not only solidify the rotation but to groom Harvey, Wheeler and Syndergaard.  I kinda like the idea… I’m also known to be a bit kooky.
  • Jason Hammel (31)Innings… he eats them.
  • Aaron Harang (36) – [$7MM+ mutual option with a $2MM buyout] I’ll pass here too.
  • Dan Haren (33)Low-risk/High-reward?  If this were hockey and the Mets were the Devils, Lou Lamoriello would be targeting Haren.  Sweet Lou is one of the best GMs in all of sports.  Maybe the Lou pick is the right pick?
  • Roberto Hernandez (33) Meh?
  • Tim Hudson (38)If he comes back, he comes back as a Brave.
  • Phil Hughes (28)Like Garza, I think the Mets will be scared off by the years.  One must consider with Hughes that he COULD be thought of for a high-leverage relief role down the line when Harvey returned and Syndergaard was promoted.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez (30) – [may void $8MM option for 2014] He’s not the pitcher he was, but I do think I’d put him in the “Front-End” discussion.
  • Josh Johnson (30)On the one hand, he’s the most talented arm on the list.  On the other, we’re looking to replace an injured player and you don’t like to do that with a supremely high injury risk.  I don’t think anyone offers Johnson more than 3 years and I can’t see the Mets offering more than 2.  I don’t think they would but the jury is out on if they should.
  • Jeff Karstens (31)Another ho-hum innings eater.
  • Scott Kazmir (30)Kazmir would be back home… alas he’s not the pitcher we once traded for Victor Zambrano.
  • Hiroki Kuroda (39)Too old to take the risk.
  • Jon Lester (30) – [$13MM club option with a $250K buyout] I see Boston using their option.
  • Colby Lewis (34)A year on the shelf makes me skeptical.  He would have been on the “Front-End” list had he been healthy.  Now he’s somewhere between innings eater and medium risk top of the rotation arm.
  • Ted Lilly (38)Lilly’s storied career seems to finally be over.
  • Tim Lincecum (30)To me, this is the best option.  He’s a higher risk than most people on the list but you might be able to sign him to a deal where he gets 2 years but can opt out after 1.  Even this season he’s shown glimpses of brilliance.
  • Paul Maholm (32)Another tweener pick.  He’s more than an innings eater and less than a “Front-End” starter.  He’s a lefty and the Mets would be happy to add him to the rotation with Niese.  He’s an interesting thought even with a healthy Harvey.
  • Shaun Marcum (32)Just say no.
  • Jason Marquis (35)He’ll eat innings or cheeseburgers… whatever you give him basically.
  • Ricky Nolasco (31)Nolasco is so reliable I can’t see him getting under a 3-year deal.  I think he deserves that much and I can’t see the Mets signing on for that.
  • Roy Oswalt (35)No way.  No way he comes to NY and no way we want him.
  • Mike Pelfrey (30)It would be silly but there have been crazy things to happen in baseball.
  • Andy Pettitte (42)Maybe if he was a few years older… come on!
  • Wandy Rodriguez (35) – [$13MM club option with a $2.5MM buyout] Rodriguez will be free of the Astros and the Mets could use a lefty but I don’t happen to like him.  I guess I have to put him in that tweener list… please no.
  • Jonathan Sanchez (31)This guy used to be something.  Not anymore.
  • Ervin Santana (31)Another tweener as he has upside but I can’t say I have a lot of faith in anyone named Santana pitching for the 2014 Mets.
  • Johan Santana (34) – [$25MM club option with a $5.5MM buyout] Case in point.
  • Joe Saunders (33) – [mutual option] If he’s a free agent he’s only an innings eater.
  • James Shields (32) – [$12MM club option with a $1MM buyout] They traded Wil Myers for him.  He’s not getting to free agency.
  • Jason Vargas (31)Another tweener option.  Another tweener option I don’t like.
  • Ryan Vogelsong (36) – [$6.5MM club option with a $300K buyout] Only 6.5 Mil should be picked up for 2014.
  • Edinson Volquez (30)I think the Mets should consider him.  I will label him a tweener but he’s got good upside with his ability to strike people out.
  • Tsuyoshi Wada (33) – [$5MM club option] I don’t know if he’ll hit free agency.  I don’t know if it matters.
  • Jake Westbrook (36) – [$9.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout.] Get your innings eaten somewhere else.
  • Chien-Ming Wang (34)I think he’s done.
  • Suk-min Yoon (27)An interesting thought but I don’t see the Mets going to this well.
  • Chris Young (35)I like him as a person.  Less so as a real option.
  • Barry Zito (36) – [$18MM vesting option with a $7MM buyout] Not the right fit.

Inning Eaters: Bronson Arroyo, Chris Capuano, Jorge De La Rosa, Scott Feldman, Jon Garland, Jason Hammel, Jeff Karstens, Jason Marquis and Joe Saunders

Tweeners: Erik Bedard, A.J. Burnett, Dan Haren, Phil Hughes, Scott Kazmir, Colby Lewis, Paul Maholm, Mike Pelfrey, Wandy Rodriguez, Ervin Santana, Edinson Volquez and Suk-min Yoon.

Front-End Starters: Matt Garza, Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jiminez, Josh Johnson, Jon Lester (probably not available), Tim Lincecum and Ricky Nolasco

If Matt Harvey can pitch in 2014:

The Mets will need 1 pitcher from the “Innings Eater” or “Tweener” categories to log innings while Noah Syndergaard/Rafael Montero/Jacob deGrom get themselves ready for the majors… and when people inevitably get hurt.  This means also that the Mets can safely trade 1 of the above mentioned pitchers in a deal to bring in an offensive player at SS or OF.  There should be plenty of money left to sign a free agent outfielder and the Mets can be written into most pre-season storylines as a playoff contender.

Sample Rotation:

  1. Matt Harvey (RHP)
  2. Jon Niese (LHP)
  3. Zack Wheeler (RHP)
  4. Paul Maholm (LHP) [2-year deal]
  5. Dillon Gee (RHP)

If Matt Harvey cannot pitch in 2014:

The Mets need 1 pitcher from the “Front-End Starter” list and 1 pitcher from the “Innings Eater” or “Tweener” lists.  My favorite front-end  options are Halladay, Jiminez and Lincecum.  The Mets would probably avoid dealing the better prospects (Syndergaard and Montero) and would instead be looking to getting an upgrade in the outfield via free agency and hoping for things to break for them in terms of hitting (You know… like Ike Davis actually living up to organizational expectations).  There is no question that losing Harvey hurts the Met chances at the post season, but the Mets DO have options to replace his production while he recovers.

Sample Rotation:

  1. Roy Halladay (RHP) [1-year deal]
  2. Jon Niese (LHP)
  3. Dan Haren (RHP) [1-year deal with vesting option]
  4. Zack Wheeler (RHP)
  5. Dillon Gee (RHP)

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19 comments for “Preparing For a Matt Harvey-less 2014

  1. RealityChuck
    August 31, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Instead of pulling names out of a hat, why not think about the good minor leaguers the Mets already have? You’re looking for a fifth starter (after Niese, Wheeler, Gee, and Mejia), so someone like Montero or Torres would be just fine. The bigger problem is the offence and the bullpen. Harvey’s loss will not stop the team from improving if they get some help in the outfield, at shortstop, and make a decision on first base and on where Flores will be playing.

    • August 31, 2013 at 10:19 pm

      Couldn’t agree with you more. Instead of writing the blog from the Mets perspective, I wish someone would take a moment and try to view things from the potential free agent view point. What do people see when the read about the Mets. Is it encouraging? Why waste millions of dollars on stop gap pitchers when the team is so cash strapped?

  2. Name
    August 31, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    I can’t say I agree with how you decided to group the pitchers, and then where you placed each pitcher.

    One way I would have done this exercise would be to break it down by expected length of contract: Minor league deal, 1 yr deal, multiyear deal. I would have a very hard time believing Alderson would give a multi-year contract to a pitcher this offseason.

    I can’t believe you would consider Roy Halladay(5.27 ERA last 2 seasons) a front line starter or Volquez(4.97 ERA since 09!) a tweener. It’s probably easiest to classify each one using the #1-6 convention and then added a group called “Reclamation” for someone like Halladay who is coming off an injury or Lincecum who no one is sure what to consider him.

    • August 31, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      Would Roy Halladay even consider the Mets? There will be one team who makes the playoffs this season who will look to add Halladay as an in surance starter to add depth to their roattion.

  3. August 31, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Until the point that the Mets actually spend money on a free agent of any stripe, I’m going to assume that they do not have the cash to do much more than dumpster diving.

    But, if I were to abandon that position, I would not want them signing any free agent pitcher to anything more than an NRI. That money should be spent on an OF, SS or 1B

  4. Metsense
    August 31, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Very interesting and logical piece but I can’t agree philosophically with your conclusions. The Mets should upgrade their offense first, even if it means going with a rookie 5th starter. They have three options to choose from as well as Torres or Gorski. The minors were built on this premise and if the promtions are a little “rushed” so be it. If they upgrade the offense then it will relieve some of the pressure on the starters. There are many holes to fill on offense and probably too little money but Sandy needs to value spend in order to improve the team as much as he can.

  5. August 31, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Earth to David? Are you receiving? So many things to go over. First Lincecum and any top tier pitcher will want a multiple year package. Are the Mets going to invest 50-60 million dollars knowing that their farm system is ready to mature and start at the major league level? Why is it that so many blogs are written in a vacuum? I understand the view point and prospective being from New York. ALL major league teas will have 50 million dollars in additional revenue from the new MLB television contracts which go into effect 2014 will be vying to sign all those free agents. Is a free agent who has 2 identical offers going to come to New York and pitch for the anemic Mets and their impotent offense? Or will they sign with another team with the expectation of landing a bigger paycheck in 2 years? With no offense and no bull pen all things being equal why would a free agent pitcher of value sign here? The idea is to produce wins on your record so that the following year you can sign a bigger contract. If 2014 is to be considered a lost year why not choose to bring up one of the prospects and put him as your 5th starter. He gains experience with no pressure and will only cost the team 500,000 dollars. Why continue to sign over-the-hill rejects in the hopes of finding lightning in a bottle? Would you bot rather go to Citifield and watch one of these kids pitch? Or would you prefer a Dice-K-Marcum type starter? the Mets need offense. A package deal for CarGo and sign Choo solves your outfield issues and lead off spot. The Mets have too many fringe players and need an impact bat now.

    • Jerry Grote
      August 31, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      that’s very funny Peter.

      A package deal for Cargo. Very funny indeed. What exactly do you suppose the Rockies are going to want for an MVP contract, under a very reasonable (given his production) contract, for his peak years?

      This isn’t the Pirates or Cardinals, with a never ending supply of talented young players.

      Mets fans need to get over this fascination with Carlos Gonzalez.

    • David Groveman
      August 31, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      Thanks for staying classy San Diego.

  6. David Groveman
    August 31, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    General response for people who decided to actually keep their comments about the post.

    The mets OF COURSE have offense as their biggest concern. However they can’t trade the Montero or Syndergaards of the world if Harvey is out. That is why I would expect the injury to convince Anderson to bring in a higher level starter. I fully would expect the mets to waste money on an innings eater regardless. It is just a typical move with that many young arms.

    Rating systems aside I would say that losing Harvey puts the mets on line to target a #1 or #2 type pitcher for 1-2 years.

    For those who chose to be less classy, I wish you the most in your lives and hope to never actually have to share oxygen with you.

    • September 1, 2013 at 12:21 am

      David I do apologize to you since we both breath the same air. So I will try to stay on comment. How much do you think it will cost the Mets to sign a 1-1A starter? The Mets will have to overpay for someone to come here. Why would a free agent as you noted come here if he receives 2 fairly identical offers? As you stated that pitcher would be looking for 2 years? And perhaps to sign 1 more contract before they retire. That being the case where is your argument for this pitcher to come here? Inconsistent offense, no bullpen? If I am a one of those pitchers where is the case for me wanting to come here? For years we as Met fans endured terrible Met teams. Trying to find ways to help this team become competitive doesn’t alter the fact that the Mets have a very long way to go before they make the play offs. Signing players like Byrd are only stop gap. It is frustrating. I’m not saying spend like the Yankees. I am not a Yankee and I don’t care what happens to them. But why invest 4 million on a pitcher like Marcum?

      • David Groveman
        September 1, 2013 at 8:03 am

        A couple things.

        Nope not gonna get into dollars and cents. Can’t tell you how much teams will spend.

        I will say that the $50 Mil I had eluded to was the difference between the mets 2013 budget and what is on tap for 2014. It has nothing to do with league money.

        A pitcher like Roy Halladay might be concerned with getting his ring. I am sure that a team like the Dodgers could make him that pitch. The mets have their own pitch. Come to pitcher friendly citi field (900% more friendly than phillies HR heaven) and be the mentor to this New York renaissance. People are excited about wheeler, Harvey, Syndergaard, d’arnaud etc… They are a reason to come to the mets. I suppose New York still has a draw too.

        Lastly the mets might need to offer more money. This is after all a business. Of you offered me the same amount of money to join your company as another then I will simply choose where I want to go more. Offering more money is part of this.

        You stay classy…

  7. September 1, 2013 at 12:29 am

    I would be thrilled if they just signed Choo and platooned center and left. I know the Mets have budget constraints. This off season SA will have to make decisions about shortstop, left field, first base. We’ll see.

  8. Sean Flattery
    September 1, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I think they will pick up one of those guys actually..Maholm or De Le Rosa on a 2 yr, or Vargas or Saunders 1 yr if they’d take it. The innings caps on all the young studs screams for a vet. So I agree there.

    Kuroda would be perfect, but probably pricey and goin back to Yanks

  9. Jim OMalley
    September 1, 2013 at 11:33 am

    This is the second time in t he past couple of days that I have heard a case to bring back Scott Kazmir. Not sure where he ranks in FA standings but I can’t see where he would derail the Mets budget.

    • Dan Stack
      September 2, 2013 at 2:07 am

      Funny Kazmir is set to face off against the Mets this week.

  10. Stephen
    September 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Lincecum? Top Tier? Apparently you haven’t watched him in 2 years. He is going to be signed by a desperate club, or someone looking to put him in the bullpen.

    Halladay is a good idea but he will look for more than 1 year, but I believe the Phillies will keep him.

    Pelfrey is also a good idea. Take a look at his line the last month. Like all TJ surgey pitchers the REAL comeback year is year 2. He was an innings eater before and when he WASN’T a front of the rotation guy, he pitched well.

  11. natcole
    September 4, 2013 at 9:45 am

    It will be premature to say Chien-Ming Wang is done. Freddy Garcia was shelled in 3A the other day and 2 days after that he pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in MLB. You can’t call someone is out for just a couple of bad outings.

    Like Freddy Garcia, Wang pitched very well in 3A this year. Considering the fact that Wang induces a lot of ground balls and 3A infielders are not as mature as the big league players, his league leading ERA over more than 100 innings is something.

    I still think he’s a good choice for long man given his recently polished curveball.

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