Yesterday, it was announced that the Mets signed John Lannan to a minor-league deal. The Mets starting rotation has already been filled out by the signing of Bartolo Colon, and it’s safe to say that Mets fans would be outraged if Lannan had been chosen to fill out the rotation instead of a pitcher like Colon. However, that doesn’t mean that a pitcher like Lannan doesn’t have a role with the Mets.
The team could use a pitcher that they could stash in Triple-A until somebody gets hurt. Last year, Carlos Torres filled in for whoever was hurt. Torres performed admirably as a starter considering the circumstances; however, his services would have been better used as a reliever. This year, the Mets can’t rely on Torres as the fill-in. Every now and then Torres can make a spot start, but if any of the projected starting pitchers goes down with an injury, the Mets are going to need a pitcher who can be in the rotation for multiple starts in a row. Lannan fits perfectly in that role.
The profile for minor-league stashes seems to be guys who had major-league success for a very short amount of time — maybe only two or three seasons — and then the wheels fell off. Pitchers like Daisuke Matsuzaka or Aaron Harang also come to mind when talking about this profile.
Below are some Oliver Projections:
Oliver projections aren’t the best, but they’re good for giving a range for how players could perform. Lannan doesn’t really do anything all that well. His career strikeout to walk ratio is 1.40, and for a guy who doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, that’s pretty bad. Lannan relies on keeping the ball in the park, which is pretty easy to do at Citi Field. Harang may have been a better option, however given Harang’s track record he may not have been keen on the idea of being stashed in the minors and probably would have had an opt-out clause written into his contract.
Matsuzaka was another option, but he only gets marginally better strikeouts than Lannan and he has a home run problem.
This signing is not a big deal. When Lannan was an everyday pitcher he was mediocre at best, so there isn’t anything indicating that he has a lot of potential. Lannan’s going to be a good substitute in the event that someone is out for a period of time. This is a smart signing that could really come in handy down the road.