There are a lot of things about the 2023 season that practically defy description for the Mets. One thing among many that seems strange to me is the amount of money the club spent to acquire Trevor Gott versus the amount of money they were unwilling to spend to pick up Lucas Giolito when he was placed on waivers. And, without a doubt, the Mets were in a different place at the time of the Gott acquisition and the Giolito ole. But it’s my opinion that the club was being penny wise and pound foolish when it came to their actions with Giolito.

First, let’s look at the Gott acquisition. The Mets still viewed themselves as contenders and one with a lousy bullpen. Because of their offseason plan to hoard relievers with options over relievers with talent, their pen was extremely top heavy. In an effort to get another reliable reliever in the pen, they absorbed the contract of Chris Flexen, who was due 3.9 million at the time of the trade, to pick up Gott. The Mets immediately released Flexen.

Meanwhile, Gott had a considerable MLB track record and it wasn’t particularly good. Coming into the 2023 season, he had pitched 191 games in the majors – all in relief – and in 185.2 IP he had a 4.80 ERA and a 4.56 FIP. For the Mariners in 2023, Gott posted a 4.03 ERA, which was a 102 ERA+. So, the Mets were willing to spend $4.5 million, including the remaining salary of Gott, to pick up a guy who was performing better than his lifetime rate in a small sample, but who even then was barely a league-average reliever.

With the Mets, Gott has a 5.79 ERA and a 1.607 WHIP. If you combine his stats this year for his two clubs, Gott has a 4.72 ERA, pretty much identical to what he had posted in his previous 191 games in the majors. Not exactly worth $4.5 million if you ask me.

Which brings us to Giolito.

From 2019 to 2021, Giolito amassed 11.4 fWAR, which tied for the sixth-best mark in the majors. He had a down season in 2022 and was on his way to a rebound year, albeit not to his 2019-21 heights until he was traded to the Angels. Giolito had a 1.7 fWAR with the White Sox in 21 games. But in six games with the Angels, he was terrible, posting a (-0.3) fWAR, as he had a 4.13 BB/9 and a 2.76 HR/9 with his new club.

The Angels were buyers at the trade deadline, trying both to make the playoffs and to convince Shohei Ohtani to re-sign with the club in the offseason. It was a defensible decision, yet one that blew up in their face. And to save a bit of money, they waived several players, including Giolito.

In his final year before reaching free agency, Giolito was making $10.4 million. The White Sox paid him just shy of $6.7 million, while the Angels paid just under $2 million. So, Giolito was available for roughly $1.8 million or less than half what the Mets paid for Gott.

All teams are allowed to submit a waiver claim and whichever team has the worst record is the one who gets the player. Since the Mets had a worse record than the Guardians, it’s easy to deduce they did not claim Giolito.

So, why should the Mets have made the claim?

As an upcoming free agent – and with the Mets needing at least two starting pitchers for 2024 – they could have gotten an up close and personal look at Giolito. They could have had a hands-on determination to see if he was still the pitcher who was on track for a 3-win season before the trade or if there was anything to suggest that he was damaged goods and that they should pass.

It would also give Giolito a look at both the team and the behind-the-scenes workings. If you’re a free agent pitcher, do you want to go to a club with 90+ losses? Do you want to go to one which has documented cases in the mainstream press about a toxic clubhouse? If they picked him up, Giolito could experience first hand what the clubhouse was like, along with getting first-hand information about the talent on hand.

It could have been a win-win situation.

Under Steve Cohen, the Mets have given a two-year deal to John Curtiss, allowing him to rehab on their dime, as he did not pitch in 2022. They signed Danny Mendick to an MLB deal, even though he spent most of the year in the minors. They overpaid to get Gott, who has never been anything special in the majors.

It just seems crazy to go cheap when the player in question is as talented as Giolito, who has a 5.2 fWAR season under his belt. At first blush, it would have been a crazy move for a team that had punted on 2023 to make this type of move. But this wasn’t about 2023 at all. Instead, this would have been an investment in the 2024 and beyond clubs, more like signing Curtiss when you knew he wasn’t going to be (potentially) useful until the following season.

Maybe there’s a dozen different reasons why the wealthiest owner in MLB wouldn’t spend $1.8 million for Giolito, to get the inside track on a potentially strong free agent pitcher, one the club desperately needs at this point. Let’s hope the reason was not that they have no desire to spend Giolito-big in free agency for the 2024 club.

8 comments on “On the Mets passing up the chance to preview Lucas Giolito

  • T.J.

    I believe that Uncle Stevie doled out even more money for Gott when you tack on the 85-90% tax. That makes it even more mind boggling. Even with his resources, $3.5 million for maybe a 2024 audition is very pricey.

  • Nym6986

    I think they know what Giolito can do and can make a play for him as a free agent. They need a better baseball mind to oversee it all – enter David Sterns. Eppler is not enough as the only baseball mind in the organization. And oh joy Cookie passed waivers – duh. Lots to be done before spring training 2024.

  • Metsense

    The Gott decision didn’t make any sense. It was a foolish waste of money. The money was should have been spent in the spring. This was a decision that Eppler made. Cohen let’s his employees have responsibility and decision making on.
    This article about Giolito is spot on. Again, Epler should be responsible. The Mets just fired there front office directors of player personnel for the minors. Maybe Eppler was insulated for those decisions. He isn’t insulated on the decisions on the active roster.

  • Woodrow1

    Editor’s Note – Please do not go off topic with your comments. If you want to discuss something totally unrelated to the article, use the Wednesday open thread, instead.

  • T.J.

    A guy the Mets could kick the tires on us Syndergaard. In a few days he could be had fore the minimum. He is a shell of the pitcher he was, and he may be like Harvey in that his stuff never plays at the MLB level again. But, he could also be a low cost non-roster or low minimum base guy in 2024 that if nothing else provides some competition for the in house guys battling for the back end of the rotation or long man pen roll. I just can’t see them signing 3 Bonaire starters this winter due to cost and due to shying away from long commitments until they get more clarity on what they think the group in Binghamton will become.

    • Brian Joura

      I agree that the Mets aren’t going to sign 3 expensive FA pitchers this offseason.

      I disagree that there’s any point to pick up Syndergaard. He’s toast. The Mets should consider themselves lucky he left when he did. Much like with Bartolo Colon, they got the last good season out of Syndergaard and left others holding the bag. He was better post-Mets but essentially R.A. Dickey fits this bill, too.

      The only avenue I see as a future for Syndergaard is to sign a minor league deal with the idea of converting him to a reliever. Can he regain some lost velocity if he only goes an inning at a time? I doubt it but that’s the type of flier he’d be worth.

  • TexasGusCC

    Brain, when I heard that Giolito was put on waivers, I thought the Mets should get him too, for the reasons you wrote. Now, I certainly didn’t think it through with the amount of logic you presented, but I liked the thought. Then, something came to me.

    Several years back, I was in a league – can’t remember if it was football or baseball – but I do recall that at the end of the year there was an agreement between the teams out of contention that they would not pickup waivers to not hurt the balance of power for the teams trying to win. I can see that being the case here. While I realize this isn’t fantasy, Cohen already has pissed off most of the league. If he continues this thumbing his nose at the other teams and pickup waiver wire players, especially when he has already waived the white flag, it doesn’t look good to the other teams. They would remember that.

    Someone today wrote that the Mets paid $40MM to get two AA outfielders. If you include Acuna’s trade, they paid quite a bit more for all of them. Eppler has burned Cohen’s money with a great deal of zeal and I don’t think Cohen would have stopped. But, enough is enough and pissing off the league needlessly would put him in the class of an Al Davis, basically, alone.

    • TexasGusCC

      Brian…. my phone again.

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