Everyone is still giddy about the Mets acquiring Francisco Lindor yesterday. Since giddy isn’t a word used to describe the reaction fans have to most player acquisitions of the Mets, let’s not rain on the parade or call for a premature end to the celebrations. But, perhaps we can take a moment to look at the other player acquired in the deal, Carlos Carrasco. Perhaps Cleveland considered Carrasco a salary dump but he’s so much more than that and helps solve a big need for the Mets.

A Venezuelan native Carrasco was originally signed by the Phillies in 2003. John Sickels had him as the team’s top prospect heading into the 2009 season – Travis d’Arnaud was ranked third – and Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 43rd of all MLB prospects, one spot ahead of Fernando Martinez. The Phillies ended up trading Carrasco during the ‘09 season, part of the prospect haul they sent to the Indians for Cliff Lee.

Carrasco had a coup of coffee with Cleveland in 2009 and made a slightly longer appearance in the majors the following season. In 2011 he made the Opening Day roster and took a turn in the rotation until early August. He ended up getting TJ surgery and missed all of 2012. Carrasco returned in 2013 but he wasn’t particularly good. He ended up making just over half of his 15 appearances out of the pen and he also saw time in the minors that season.

But everything started to come together for Carrasco in 2014.

He started the year in the rotation but after four lousy starts, Carrasco was sent to the bullpen. In 26 games as a reliever, Carrasco notched a 2.30 ERA and a 1.023 WHIP in 43 IP. He was moved back to the rotation in mid-August and in his final 10 starts of the year, Carrasco put up a 1.30 ERA with 78 Ks in 69 IP. Despite the lousy start, and spending half the season as a reliever, Carrasco finished with a 3.2 fWAR in ‘14.

The next four years he was a mainstay of Cleveland’s rotation. Carrasco went 60-36 with a 130 ERA+ in this span. He amassed a combined 17.8 fWAR in this span, including back-to-back years with totals of 5.4 and 5.2 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The Mets have been known for their pitching throughout their history and only 27 times has a pitcher posted a 5.0 or greater fWAR season and only 13 pitchers have produced that number.

Carrasco hit a major roadblock in 2019, though. He was placed on the injured list with a blood condition, which was later diagnosed as leukemia. Remarkably, he was able to come back in September to make 11 appearances out of the bullpen. Carrasco’s September numbers were awful but that wasn’t the point. The fact he came back at all was tremendous and he earned the Comeback Player of the Year for his efforts.

During the Covid-shortened season, Carrasco took the ball every five days and ended up with a strong season, notching a 2.91 ERA in 68 IP. He was seventh in the AL in ERA and eighth in innings. As terrific as those numbers were overall, Carrasco did his best pitching down the stretch. In his final six games, he had a 1.66 ERA and allowed just 1 HR in 38 IP. Just as importantly, he showed better control at the end of the year. After allowing 15 BB in his first 30 IP of 2020, Carrasco surrendered 12 BB in his final 38 IP. It’s still not the 2.1 BB/9 that he posted between 2014-2018 but it’s a move in that direction.

Steamer thinks he’ll post a 3.5 fWAR over 174 IP this season, which would be a really strong addition to the Mets’ staff. For a comparison, the same system forecasts a 3.8 fWAR from Trevor Bauer. And Bauer will likely pull down a contract 2.5X more expensive than Carrasco’s.

There’s a slight concern about Carrasco’s age, as 2021 will be his age-34 season. But he seems to be completely recovered from the 2019 issue, which at this moment seems more important than the number of candles on his birthday cake. While it’s debatable if the Mets needed to import an impact shortstop, they absolutely needed to add a high-end starter. And they did just that with Carrasco. It’s fun to think about a second-half rotation with Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard joining Carrasco.

Keep on feeling giddy, Mets fans.

7 comments on “In celebration of new Mets SP Carlos Carrasco

  • Aging Bull

    He’s a great addition plus the fact that his nickname is Cookie! LGFM.

    • Chris F


      Agreed, welcome to Queens Carrasco!

      • Aging Bull

        Thanks Chris. Happy new year! This trade certainly got me excited for Spring Training. While Bauer may have better stats than Cookie, he’s significantly more expensive. Bauer seems like he could be a divisive force in the locker room too and I think that the Mets chemistry is developing nicely, behind the young leaders. They are a joyful bunch and Lindor fits right in.

        I’d argue that Cookie has a more consistent track record. In the five years before cancer, he averaged 4.0 WAR whereas Bauer averaged 2.9. Bauer is younger, yes, but Cookie relies more on finesse. Lastly and not to get too clever here, Carrasco seems to love the game on the field and Bauer seems preoccupied with his so-called “brand.” As talented as Bauer might be, he reminds me more of Anna Benson than anyone else in Mets lore.

  • TexasGusCC

    I checked Carrasco’s numbers and they’re better than Bauer’s.

    This was a slaughtering of the Cleveland Indians. They traded their best two players for what was described as:
    – a glove over bat SS that may be major league average in a few years
    – an athletic utility player
    – a young pitcher with “tremendous upside”
    – an outfielder that “has the ability to develop into a fine outfielder”

    This was according to Keith Law, as the entire MLB press is trying to console Indians fans.
    The Cleveland Plain Dealer wasn’t as kind.

    I have much family in Cleveland and have been to Cleveland regularly for the last twenty years, including two months ago. I may not be allowed back. No wonder Anderson thanked Antonelli.

  • Woodrow

    It certainly looks like a helluva trade, a steal. Carrasco is arguably better than all the free agent pitchers besides Bauer and cheaper. Lindor even if he doesn’t sign, can be replaced by one of the other potential FA shortstops,Baez, Story,Correa or Seager.. Giminez is a fun player but you have to wonder if he’ll ever hit. Rosario lots of talent but is something missing, he sure isn’t a good SS. The two prospects? Maybe MLers someday, maybe not. Carrasco fills a big need and the cost is quite reasonable.

  • Metsense

    Carrasco is better than free agent starting pitcher available except Bauer. The Mets should add one more starting pitcher better than Peterson instead of relying on Matz or Lugo as the 5th started until Syndergaard is ready if they want to assure a divisional title.
    Yes I am giddy.

  • TJ

    Having digested the deal over the course of the last day, it really is an excellent deal for the Mets, regardless of the risk related to extending Lindor. As mentioned above, that risk is somewhat mitigated by the supply of quality shortstops that will hit the marketplace.

    The Carrasco inclusion cannot be underestimated. It killed multiple birds with the same stone. Barring an unforeseen injury, the Mets are no longer pressured with signing a higher end/higher cost starter. Ditto for a reliever. The Mets will almost certainly add one of each, but neither should require a financial commitment that would risk retaining/acquiring a higher end asset. A Paxton/Kluber fits real well.

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