It’s been another quiet weekend on the Hot Stove as everyone prepares to officially flip the calendar to 2013 and get a fresh start. There are some free agent starting pitchers that are also looking for a fresh start with a new team, but for a contract worth more than one year, which could price them out of Sandy Alderson’s comfort zone.
Pitchers like Joe Saunders, Shaun Marcum, and Brett Myers are all interested in receiving a two-year deal from the next team they play for, likely because Francisco Lirianoset the market after agreeing to a two-year/$14 million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates last week. From what we’ve been hearing around the league thus far, there are no teams interested in making that kind of investment in these pitchers yet. The Orioles are staying in contact with Saunders, who acquired him last summer in a trade with Arizona, and the Twins are still interested in these hurlers, but only if they’re willing to back down and accept a one-year contract.
The Mets have been linked to the above pitchers, as well as Carl Pavano and Chris Young to fill the hole in the rotation left after the R.A. Dickey trade. If everything goes according to plan for New York, top prospect Zack Wheeler will be ready for the Big Leagues by July, which leads me to believe that Young is the best fit and most likely candidate for Alderson to pursue and sign.
After rehabbing from the same injury and surgery Johan Santana had to go through, Young made it back to the Big League rotation in June after Terry Collins went through multiple options to find a replacement for the injured Mike Pelfrey. Once he made his season debut, he didn’t miss a start, with his 115 innings pitched the most he’s been on the mound in a single season since 2008 with the Padres. He compiled a 4-9 record, 4.15 ERA, and 1.35 WHIP in 20 starts, which is by no means flashy (especially with his mid-80s fastball), but he was effective enough to keep New York in the game for the majority of his starts.
Out of all the available starting pitchers on the free agent market, Young is not rumored to be looking for a two-year deal (although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind it) and he would certainly be the cheapest of all. For the role Sandy Alderson is trying to fill, Young may very well be returning to Flushing in 2013. He drew interest from some other teams early in the winter, but nothing serious, so the Mets wouldn’t have to get into a bidding war with other potential suitors, and they know exactly what they’re getting with him.
In the eyes of most, Johan Santana’s health is a question mark going into Spring Training this February, but the other Mets starting pitcher with some unknowns around him is Dillon Gee. He had a decent first half for New York in the back-end of the rotation, going 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 97 strikeouts in 109.2 innings pitched. However, he wasn’t able to take the mound at all after the mid-summer classic, as he had to undergo surgery to remove a blod clot in his throwing shoulder, which created numbness in his pitching hand.
Throughout the second half of the season, we didn’t hear much about how Dillon was doing, but when we did, it sounded positive for him being completely healthy and ready to contribute in 2013. There’s no doubt Collins would love to get the pitcher back that won 13 games and started 27 in 2011, and from what it’s sounding like, he’s well on his way.
According to MetsBlog, Gee is already a month into his normal off-season throwing plan and is expected to have no limitations once pitchers and catchers report in a couple months. The righty also mentioned that he’s seen an improvement in his recovery time because of the increase in blood and oxygen now that the clot is gone, which will aid in him being more consistent from start to start (at least, that’s what I’m hoping). Either way, it’s nice to hear of the improvements Gee is experiencing, and it’s similar to earlier this off-season when we heard Ike Davis say he’s in the best shape he’s ever been. Let’s hope it translates onto the field.