I took my bag into a grocer’s store
The price is higher than the time before
Old man asked me why is it more

Dumpster diving is more expensive than it used to be. To get a pitcher with a 6.65 ERA and 1.646 WHIP in 89.1 IP last year, the Mets had to pay Luis Severino $13 million, plus $2 million in incentives on a one-year deal with no team option. That seems, um, crazy. Without a doubt, the Mets need pitchers, both starters and relievers. And all of the deals so far for starting pitching have been for $10 million or more. No doubt some will just shrug and say that this is the going rate. It’s the going rate now. But will it be the going rate in late January?

The Mets were linked to Severino almost immediately, so you can say they got their guy. To which one might reply – be careful what you wish for because it might not be what you think. If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, you know one of my pet peeves is the organization’s fascination with guys who were good on another team three or more years ago but who now stink.

It was one thing to employ this type of strategy when the budget was tight and the reclamation projects were cheap. It wasn’t good, mind you, but at least it was more defensible. Back in 2011, the Mets signed Chris Capuano as this type of pitcher for $1.5 million. Capuano had been an 18-game winner in 2005 and had a decent 2006. But 2007 was limited to 71.1 fewer innings than the year before and he missed all of 2008 and 2009. Capuano returned in 2010 and appeared in 66 innings and posted a 102 ERA+ in his last year before joining the Mets. In his one season in Queens, Capuano gave the Mets 186 IP and an 81 ERA+.

And this was a success story, as he made 31 starts.

The same offseason, the Mets signed future Rangers GM Chris Young. Between 2005-07, Young was 32-20 with a 117 ERA+. But he made just 36 appearances the next three years, with a 92 ERA+. The Mets signed him and he pitched in four games in 2011 before missing the rest of the season.

In 2013, the Mets went dumpster diving for Shaun Marcum, who gave them 78.1 IP and went 1-10 with a 68 ERA+ for $4 million. Later that year, the dumpster diving continued with Aaron Harang and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Harang was solid in four starts so they let him leave. Matsuzaka was worse in seven games (81 ERA+) so of course they brought him back for 2014, where he gave 83 IP at an 89 ERA+.

The Mets took a break from this type of starter for several years, as their farm system was cranking out pitchers and the one player they did sign to supplement the rotation was Bartolo Colon, who joined the team after throwing 190.1 IP with a 147 ERA+. He was both healthy and good in the immediate year before joining the Mets and not a dumpster signing.

But the Mets returned to that model in 2020, when they signed Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. Porcello won the CY Award in 2016 but had gotten worse every season since, with an 88 ERA+ in the year before joining the Mets. In 12 games during the Covid year, Porcello went 1-7 with a 76 ERA+ in what turned out to be his final year in the majors at age 31.

Wacha was a 17-game winner in 2015 but hadn’t matched that type of season the following four years. In his last season before joining the Mets, Wacha had an 88 ERA+ in 126.2 IP. He turned in a 65 ERA+ with a 1.559 WHIP in 34 IP for the Mets. Wacha was underwhelming the following year, too, for the Rays. But he’s been solid the past two seasons. Perhaps something was unlocked in Tampa.

Both Porcello and Wacha signed with the Mets for fewer than half the dollars they were making the previous year. That was still a hefty contract for Porcello, who pulled down $10 million. But at least he was healthy, having made 98 starts in the three seasons since winning the award for being the top pitcher.

Meanwhile, Severino is coming off a 4/$40 million contract, albeit one that was backloaded. Last year he pulled down $15 million. Unlike Porcello and Wacha, Severino is not coming in at a significantly reduced rate. If he reaches his incentives, it will be for the same money he made a season ago.

My opinion is that most Mets fans are in favor of this signing, with one slightly ridiculous caveat. The line read from multiple people across multiple platforms is that they like the deal if Severino is their fifth starter and not their 2/3. Who on earth thinks he’ll be their third starter, much less their second?

It’s a natural tendency to put more weight on performances that you’ve seen. With Severino coming from the Yankees, it’s likely that many people witnessed his 2017-18 peak. Combine that with the magic pixie dust of “being able to perform in New York,” and it’s understandable that most people favor this dumpster-diving move.

Just don’t put me in that category. My opinion is that this is a waste of money, which could be used better elsewhere. My hope is that this turns into a repeat of the Tommy Pham signing of a year ago, one that left me cold when it happened but turned around to the point where I wrote an article imploring the Mets to make him a starter.

But you won’t see me making a wager on that outcome.

28 comments on “Mets return to dumpster diving with Luis Severino signing

  • Footballhead

    I wouldn’t have minded the Severino signing if he was still available just before the start of ST. If he was, you could be sure that he would have come “cheaper”; maybe an incentive laced package for up to 10M. Like you, I believe the Mets panicked and bid against themselves just to get a former All-Star. Were the Mets brass worried if Severino had signed for someone else?

    For now, I have more faith in Lucchesi having a better year.

    • Brian Joura

      I agree about Lucchesi. I’d rather see Butto get starts, too.

  • Metsense

    I don’t like this signing either, especially in November and not mid January. Severino can’t be pencil in as their SP#2 or SP#3. That would be foolishness. At this point in their careers, Lucchesi is better than Severino. It was an overpay and a misappropriation of funds. Although it would be more expensive, Flaherty ( MLBTR estimates 3/$40 m), Imanaga (MBLTR estimated 5/$85m) or Giolito (MBLTR estimated 2/44m) would have been less risky than and they are younger than Severino.

    • Boomboom

      It’s only a waste of money or misallocation if it prevents then signing anyone else. There isn’t any indication yet that that’s the case. It could turn out that the Mets still sign Yamamoto and Imanaga, and Flaherty. Now you ve got a 6 man rotation with quality depth in the minors. Let s see how it plays out. Mendoza knows something abt Severino and presumably gave a strong endorsement. I don’t particularly like or dislike this move. Need to see how the rest of the off-season plays out.

    • Brian Joura

      I’m sort of a Giolito backer but I can’t pretend he’s not risky. His last two years, he’s combined for an 86 ERA+ and has allowed a 1.7 HR/9. He’s the type of guy I’d want on an incentive-laden deal, not one I’d sign to a 2/$44 million deal like the MLBTR estimate.

      • BoomBoom

        Bradford Doolittle has the rosy take on Espn.com where he grades the move a B. Mostly based on potential upside and Stearns track record of fixing other team’s castoffs.


        Most interesting line:
        “…in 2022, he still limited opponents to a .588 OPS. Last season, that number was .952, on roughly the same number of meatball offerings. With the velocity and spin categories still playable, it feels like Severino can still be salvaged with the right tweaks.”

        • Brian Joura

          If Severino added a couple of starts at the same quality as he had in 2022, he’d be worth the contract. That seems optimistic.

          Can he be fixed? I dunno, maybe. But I would give zero points of extra credit for what happened with reclamation projects in MIL. Stearns picks up the guy but it’s up to others to discover flaws, analyze solutions and implement tweaks. Unless Stearns is bringing proprietary info on those three areas with him, his contribution seems to be the least valuable of all.

  • Steve_S.

    I’m OK with the Severino signing, but only if he’s the fifth starter. Signing at least two of Yamamoto, Montgomery and Eduardo Rodriguez, as well as Imanaga, make this work for me, even if it’s a bit of an overpay.

    I don’t get the need to sign Wendle though. They’ve got much younger backups at SS, 2B, and 3B. And if no Baby Met starts at 3B, I don’t want Wendle starting there.

  • ChrisF

    Me neither. He’s clearly on the slide out of baseball. I care less about teh money and more about the process in willfully chasing a guy that has been broken and not able to pitch. I think of him as a 5-7 starter at most. Id be shocked if he gave us more than 15 starts, and had an ERA+ > 90.

    I think we all need to get used to a major cost of living increase coming for most FAs. Im thinking way more than what we’d all find reasonable.

  • ChrisF

    I think you get 75-90 innings max. 5-6 ERA. 1.3-1.4 WHIP.
    Like others are saying, Severino is the guy you have on a team that you need to find someone else to fill all the missed innings.

    my best projection is that he is ’24s Vogelbach (at lease for now).

  • ChrisF

    not to mention joey wendell…

    yikes. what a signing.

  • T.J.

    I think judging this move at this stage is unwise and more or less impossible. Offseason moves are better judged in tandem and not as stand alone. Certainly the price is high but for those scoffing now we are basically saying Stearns, with his Ivy degree and MLB exec experience, is messing up out of the gate. Wendle looks to be the new Luis G for better or worse. I’m with Boomboom and willing to watch it play out before having a yay or nay opinion. I mean, would we rather have spent $90 million to coax Sonny Gray back to NYC?

    • Brian Joura

      I’m more than willing to concede that the Mets will sign two or three pitchers to slot above Severino. But I don’t care if he’s the fifth or sixth starter – my opinion is that banking on someone who hasn’t been both healthy and good in … checks notes … five years is a losing proposition. What do you think the hit rate on that situation is?

      People say that money isn’t an issue. If that’s true – get guys who were good last year instead of ones who you have to go back to 2018. This is a small-market strategy, right up there with option relievers.

      • T.J.

        The hit rate is essentially a guess, and that includes the professionals with all their proprietary data. I think it’s fair to say the hit rate is under 50/50, certainly returning to his pre-TJ form is a long shot. But, he was decent in 2022, he has had many injuries and thus lower innings on his arm, Mendoza knows him first hand, he still throws gas, so there are some reasons to think of healthy he can be decent. I think the uproar is about price. Relative to other signings – Lynn, Gibson, Maeda – the price is high….would we feel better if it was a $7 million deal….maybe, but those differences only matter for Wilpon Mets, so that portion doesn’t concern me as much.

      • Jerseydevil

        Dude. It’s a one year deal. It’s not like you’re mortgaging the future of the franchise for the guy. He’s still only 29 turning 30 in February, the fastball still has good velocity, maybe Hefner can help him find the slider again, crazier things have happened ala Michael Wacha being really good again for the last two years. This isn’t a bad move at all. It’s not a good move either. It’s just a move. I’m sorry but you can find a lot worse options to be a 5th starter then a former 2x all star who’s going into his age 30 season.

  • Bob P

    I’m in agreement with TJ. My assumption at this point is that Severino is a bit of a lottery ticket, but that he’s not being counted on to be a key part of the rotation. I would suspect that he will be competing for some starts as the 5-6 starter along with Lucchesi, Butto, etc. and adds some depth if the team wants to keep Senga (and hopefully Yamamoto) on extra rest. If he finds the production he’s had when healthy, he could be a nice find, but I can’t imagine that’s what Stearns is counting on. Overpay? Probably, but the team has made worse moves than this. I don’t see much to lose here. Obviously if this is the big move to improve the starting staff, then it’s a different story.

  • ChrisF

    According to Joel Sherman over that the Post, the Mets are just getting going, and according to an unnamed baseball executive:

    That is why you can hear this from an executive who said his perception is the Mets are going full bore in trying to land Japanese stars Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shota Imanaga, among others, “They’re not messing around. I don’t think they have the stomach for a year or two to get the ship turned around.”

    Interesting Sherman also mentioned Severino as a reliever if the starts dont pan out. I was wondering about that a little too. Or use him as the inevitable “opener” aiming only for 6-9 outs.


    • Brian Joura

      Well, if nothing else we cleared away the unlikely scenario that they’re going to try to get under the tax threshold that invokes a draft-pick penalty.

      I have little use for random unnamed executives from other teams. I’d rather hear your opinion – at least you’re man enough to put your name to it.

  • Woodrow

    13 million $, they’re expecting more than a #5 starter. Whether they get that is another matter.

  • Metsense

    The article refers in dumpster diving. Joey Wendle is not dumpster diving… it is was roadkill. They just got rid of Luis Guillorme 29 yoa, arb MLBTR estimate at $1.7m with no options, to sign 34 yoa Wendle at $2m for the same position. Both of them shouldn’t be on the roster.
    They just signed Austin Adams to bolster the bullpen. Another roadkill signing. ???

    • BoomBoom

      At least Wendle is a former all-star. Can’t say that about LG and I loved LG. Adams seems like he had some bad luck last season as his FIP was much better than his ERA. What I like about him is he throws from an unusual arm slot. There has been much talk about how every reliever coming out of the Mets pen last year looked the same. Whereas the Rays could offer a veritable half a clock of bullpen arm angles which helped make them so effective. Also Adams contract is a split guarantee so he’s not assured a spot on the ML roster. Mets need A LOT of pitching depth.

      • Brian Joura

        I read that same thing about the relievers and I don’t get it. Phil Bickford was different from Adam Ottavino who was different from Drew Smith. And Trevor Gott brought a SP repertoire to the table. If they really were worried about being too similar, they would have brought back Gott. In my mind, the issue wasn’t that they were too similar – it’s that they were a has been (Tommy Hunter) and a dozen never weres.

        • ChrisF

          I’ll add one more thing to that Brian: all were afraid to throw strikes, telling me they knew the “stuff” was nothing special.

          • AgingBull

            Agree, except that Drew Smith was pretty enamored with his breaking ball. He liked to throw that curve ball right into the wheelhouse to see how far it could be hit.

  • NYM6986

    No issue with Severino bring the #5 starter and these days $13 million is not that much – can’t believe I just said that about the money. The signing clearly highlights the lack of confidence in all those not ready for prime time starters that had a great last six weeks, but basically pitched miserably for most of the season. Not sure Severino would work as a reliever. One issue is health, the other is sometimes players benefit from a change of scenario. Wendle is supposed to be a solid citizen in the clubhouse, but he doesn’t seem to excel on either side of the ball. I would rather see Mauricio get the chance to be the infield backup if he is not starting at 3B. Neither deal infringes on getting Yamamoto, the prize of the free agent market, because I would not give Ohtani $40 million plus to be a DH, who may never be the same pitcher after recovering from TJ surgery. Funny thing about dumpster diving for Michael Wacha who went 14-4 with a 3.22 ERA 2023 for the Padres.

  • AgingBull

    I knew that M360 would have the balanced and objective view on these trades. I’d only been able to follow these signings via social and it sure seemed like usual Mets pundits are excited. (My perspective is limited as I am far away from the NY media vortex.) For what it’s worth, I’m not a fan of either either.
    I think the best argument in favor of Severino is that Mendoza knows him well, going back to the minors. Maybe he was mishandled by the NYY staff. There’s so much we don’t know and won’t ever know but the odds are stacked against him. Can he perform in the pen and be a 6-out guy? Maybe the occasional opener? It’s a longshot and I don’t care for it at all.
    I don’t get the Wendle signing one bit. I thought one of the benefits of releasing Luis G was that it cleared an obstacle for the Baby Mets and Acuna. Now we have a less appealing obstacle.
    Hopefully these two moves will be long forgotten come Spring Training. In the Wilpon era, these moves would have been the headlines from the winter. I don’t think anyone would bet against the idea that Cohen and Stearns are just getting started.

  • Mike W

    Severino is only a one year deal. Maybe he pulls a Wacha. Maybe he doesn’t. I think he is worth a shot. There is info that none of know about, so let’s see what happens.

    I love the idea of signing Yamamoto and Imanaga and having a six man rotation. I also love the idea of signing Montgomery over Snell and Rodriguez.

    Also looks like the Mets are moving away from Ohtani. Good, because I don’t think he is worth $ 500 million. I’d rather give some of that money to Soto next year.

  • Mike W

    Seems like the Mets are signing a bunch of scrubs.

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