New-York-Mets-Logo-VectorWith a surplus of pitching, and a need for a better shortstop, the Mets continue to be linked to teams searching for pitching. The problem is that teams are willing to trade, but only for Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler, players the Mets are unlikely to deal this offseason. Instead, it seems that Sandy Alderson is eager to move other pitchers, like Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese. So far, the market has not been existent for these three pitchers, however it is early in the offseason and there are some dominos that must fall for teams to consider these pieces valuable.

The hottest name on the free agent market is Jon Lester, as he has been linked to the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox. The ace pitched well last season, going 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA while striking out 220 innings in 220 innings. The past seven seasons, Lester has pitched at least 190 innings, making him a valuable workhorse for whichever team signs him. When Lester signs, other teams will be in search of another top tier pitcher, which makes Max Scherzer intriguing.

Scherzer has been one of the game’s best pitchers, totaling 39 wins the past two seasons, and winning a Cy Young Award in 2013. The Tigers tried to re-sign their ace, by offering him a 6 yr/ $144 million deal, but Scherzer turned it down, hoping to make more money via free agency. With the Yankees in the midst of Scherzer rumors, he will be able to make quite a bit of money on the open market. The teams unable to get Lester or Scherzer may turn their attention to another quality starting pitcher.

Remember when the Kansas City Royals traded away their top prospect Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire a two-year rental ace in James Shields? The Royals got what they wanted, and made it to the World Series. The team was not able to re-sign Shields, who is another hot commodity on the market. In previous seasons, Shields has pitched over 200 innings and won more than 10 games, making him a consistent player. He is arguably considered one of the most valuable players on the market as his contract will not be among Scherzer’s, but could be more in line with Lester. Lester, Scherzer and Shields are the big dominos out on the free agent market, but there are other crucial dominos to keep an eye on.

Dealing MVP candidate Josh Donaldson has raised a lot of eyebrows, as spectators have no idea what Billy Beane’s vision for the A’s is. The team has been rumored to be shopping Jeff Samardzija, as his contract is winding down and the A’s will be unlikely to re-sign him. Teams that miss out in free agency will be interested and linked to Samardzija, as he has become a top pitcher in the MLB.

In order to clear up cap space and begin their rebuilding era, the Philadelphia Phillies have begun shopping Cole Hamels, and could be dealing him. It seems that the Hamels decision may come later in the offseason, as teams that have missed out on the starting pitching market will most likely turn to a trade.

These are the aces teams will be after. If there are teams that feel that the starting pitchers price tags are too high, there will be increased interest in the Mets starters. Colon’s contract is $11 million next season and that is not too bad considering some starts will make more than $20 million. Niese is earning $7 million next season, and is potentially under team control until 2018. Gee is under control until 2017 when he can become a free agent. Considering their salaries, these players are affordable and have shown productive stretches in their careers. These pitchers are not considered aces, but still are a solid group that can help a team out either in the middle or back end of the rotation.

It seems probable that the Mets will be making a deal in the offseason to get a shortstop or an outfielder. If the Mets are dedicated to trading away some of their pitching in order to improve their payroll, Alderson will have to wait for the dominos to fall in order to maximize value.

17 comments on “For the Mets, patience is a virtue

  • TexasGusCC

    Cuddyer, MDD, Neuwenheis,Lagares, Granderson, EY, Puello (who has to be on the 25 man or be released and has mashed lefties).

    The Mets want to package to upgrade at SS. I don’t see any teams biting on it.

    • James Newman

      I was thinking they were going to look for another outfielder to play when Cuddyer moves to first. I think Puello could be that guy, but I don’t know if the Mets are confident in his abilities.

      I also agree with your SS comment, but I think the Mets are going to acquire someone who may be a defensive upgrade at the position. Thanks for the read TexasGusCC.

      • TexasGusCC

        Always a nice job James. Keep up the good work.

  • pete

    You’re comparing apples to oranges when you compare Colon with other “starters:” to say he is relatively cheap. He pitched to a 4 ERA and had about a 1/2 dozen awful starts where the Mets had no chance of winning. It’s not a bad contract but when you’re looking at it from a Met FO point of view it’s weighing down their options to move him. He’s at best a number 3 now on this team and the Mets can use his 11 million for the upgrade at SS. By the way Colon represents 8% of the payroll for his average output and value for this pitching rich organization. With the depth of starters in Las Vegas waiting for their opportunity Colon is an impediment and needs to be moved as quickly as possible. And if as you say James 11 million isn’t too bad for a starter then why hasn’t Alderson dumped Colon already?

    • Name

      The amount of slack that Colon gets from Mets fans and the amount of slack that the fans give Alderson for signing that turd is way too much.
      It was a bad signing then, an unmovable contract during the trading deadline, and still unmovable now.
      With the amount of top quality pitching available this offseason, why would a team even bother with Colon? I bet you could sign Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and Brett Anderson, 3 injury riddled but high upside guys, all for less than $11 million guaranteed.

      • pete

        Agreed I thought from day one this was a disastrous move. You knew Harvey wasn’t going to pitch so why not prepare for 2015. It was a poor allocation of funds for a team with limited resources, Add that to the 7 million+ to CY and to me Alderson just shows how a desperate GM can make irrational (bonehead) decisions based on what? Urgency? The Mets weren’t going to win in 2014. As you stated with so many pitchers available now the Mets if needed could have signed from a number of available FA pitchers an incentive laden contract. Alderson gets a “F” in my book. He’s good at restocking the minors but that’s only half the job. Eventually the Mets needs to win consistently. Preferably at home! if Colon is on the opening day roster I don’t see any hope for moving him until the trading deadline next season. And the hits just keep on rolling.

        • TexasGusCC

          Pete, two points:

          1. Alderson had urgency because this team was expected to win 90, LOL!

          2. I have no problem keeping Colon if Gee or Niese, or both are dealt. Colon is a serviceable fifth starter and while Name makes a good point that Colon too expensive, this is a pitcher that had sub 3.00 ERA in the American League the year before and he is durable. This is not an injury situation waiting to happen, so I feel that he will have more value in July. So, I hold him.

          BTW, the teams that need a starter or are after a starter are: White Sox, Red Sox X2, Braves, Rangers X2, Blue Jays, Yankees, Royals, Angels, Giants, Cubs, and Diamondbacks; that’s 14 starters! If Alderson is reasonable, there should be plenty of interested teams. If he’s looking for the moon, forget it.

          I would keep two of these three guys and try to deal a youngster for Profar.

  • pete

    While it’s nice to know Colon isn’t a probable for the DL (maybe its the donuts?) He’s going to account for nearly 10% of the Mets 2015 payroll. I thought Sandy was supposed to be a shrewd judge of players and their value to a team? As a 4th or 5th starter? Sorry but that’s way too much money for an innings eater (no pun intended) pitcher who will probably be 11-11 by the AS break. If I’m a GM I would look elsewhere for a reliable starter at a much cheaper rate.

    • James Newman

      Great points Pete. I figure that there may be a team that would be willing to acquire Colon. I think if Colon were to be moved, the Mets would need to eat some of the money offered. He is an innings guy, and could be a valuable member down the stretch, and has some postseason experience. Thank you for the read Pete!

  • Metsense

    I too never liked the Colon signing. I would have preferred if Montero (or Syndergaard) got the starts. It would have been a bumpy ride but the experience and evaluation would have been priceless in preparation for 2015.
    Having Colon now does allow the Mets to trade a pitcher. The pitching market has to thin out and then the Mets should be able to make a move. Patience is a virtue, but losing has become a way of life for a Met fan.

  • pete

    I don’t mind the losing. Met fans are accustomed to it. Yes it hurts but the more I learn about the Wilpons and their sleazy ways of operating their franchise the more I prefer not to be in the playoffs and line their pockets. When the Wilpons decide they can afford to reinvest in the team and stop looking for players that can be turned over for replenishing the farm then maybe the baseball gods will accommodate them. I have a feeling that Met fans will have to wait until new ownership is in place before the Mets win another World Series

  • Patrick Albanesius

    I don’t think it’s worth trading any starting pitching at this point for the shortstops available. Maybe if we were to get a high end prospect like a Lindor or Russell, but neither is quite ready to contribute right now anyway, so what’s the point. Might as well give Flores his time to shine and see what he can do. Our pitchers will still be around to deal when the trade deadline comes and we’ve seen more of our own young SS.

    • Chris F

      What about Castro? Shortstop is such a premium position that putting pretenders in there fails to recognize just how critical it is.

      • Metsense

        I agree with you Chris F. The Met middle defense at catcher, second base and shortstop could sabotage the pitching staff. The defense needs to improve without sacrificing too much offense.
        The Mets have a weak fielding second baseman who will walk away after the 2015 season so it would do the Mets better to move that salary now and apply it to an established shortstop. That will allow the Mets to move Flores (or Herrera) to second base and improve the defense. Castro, Miller, Ramirez, Lowrie and Drew are all better fielders than Flores at SS and all five of these players have had success in the major leagues offensively (more so than Flores has). Upgrading at SS with any of these five players should improve the team.

        • Chris F

          I hear ya Metsense…loud and clear.

  • RAFF

    I agree with Patrick. Furthermore- Who is this mythical shortstop upgrade everyone seems to be talking about? Yes- I agree it would be nice to upgrade SS- but who’s “the guy”? And what do you think he’ll cost. Neise and Gee are viewed as questionable goods- and maybe damaged goods. Elbow, Shoulder— Who’s parting with a “SS upgrade” in trade for guys who have sketchy health and durability issues? Anyone trading a “SS Upgrade” is going to want something in return- either a high level prospect (or two), or a dependable winning pitcher. PS: To everyone touting a ‘glut’ of starting pitching- Really? Aforementioned: Neise and Gee have proven to be decent competent pitchers- and they’ve proven that they’re going to spend time on the DL. Colon is 42/43/53? And Syndy and Matz?- they’re still cutting their teeth, and the last time I looked, neither has thrown a pitch in the major leagues. Many ‘trash’ Colon’s performance @4.1 ERA… I recapped his stats in detail in a post a couple months ago- point is- he had a ton of quality starts- Expecting Syndegaard to just step in as a number 1,2,3, or 4 is really optimistic. He pitched a 4.6 era- in Minor League baseball. Others just plug Harvey in as What He Was- very optimistic. And Matz- again- very optimistic. I’ll land this plane- the mets need and will use all their pitching. Unless some rare opportunity falls into their laps- SS will remain as it is. And I’m ok with that, because the *real difference* needs to be a return to back of the baseball card stats for Wright and Grandy, and continued performance of Lagares, and D’arnaud. Without that, SS doesn’t matter. And with that- SS matters a hell of a lot less.

  • Michael Geus

    I believe the recently departed EY Jr. was the last major league player acquired by trade by this Front Office.

    That transaction was in June, 2013. If you are into patience you are rooting for the right team!

    If you are into wins, not so much.

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