Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to add minor leaguers who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft to the 40-man roster. The Mets, who have stated that they won’t protect more than five players, have some big decisions to make.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, both Jeff Walters and Jacob deGrom are all but certain to be two of the players the Mets add. Frankly, it would be stunning if either one of them was left unprotected.
Walters, a 26 year old right hander, had a very good season as the closer for Double-A Binghamton last year. In 56 innings pitched spanning 53 appearances, Walters gave up 46 hits, walked 16 batters, and struck out 60. He had a 2.09 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.
It’s likely that Walters will open the 2014 season with Triple-A Las Vegas, but he has an outside shot at being in the big league pen.
Though he doesn’t have the upside of Syndergaard or Montero, deGrom is someone who’s extremely valuable to the club. He had an ERA of 4.52 for Triple-A Las Vegas last season after being promoted from Double-A Binghamton mid-year. His FIP, however, was almost a full run lower, coming in at 3.56.
DeGrom will likely be one of the competitors for the fifth spot in the rotation during spring training. If he doesn’t make the big league club, he’ll open the year in the Las Vegas rotation.
Matz, a 22 year old who had a breakthrough season for Low-A Savannah after his career was held up by injuries, is an interesting case. If you look at his upside alone – he’s a lefty starter who throws in the mid-90’s and has a chance to have plus secondaries – it’s a no-brainer that he should be protected.
The only reason protecting Matz isn’t a given, is because any team who chooses him would have to keep him on the active roster for the entire 2014 season or return him to the Mets. Matz has never pitched above Low-A, it would be a bit surprising if he was selected.
Still, there’s always a chance that a non-contender selects Matz and tries to hide him in the bullpen all season. The Mets simply can’t risk letting him get away – no matter how unlikely Matz getting selected may be. Because of that, he should be protected.
Vaughn, a 24 year old outfielder, is also on the bubble. While he doesn’t have much upside, he’s someone who may be able to help the Mets in the near future as a platoon outfielder who plays against lefties.
Vaughn, a corner outfielder, had a triple slash of .267/.346/.424 last season for Double-A Binghamton. I’d guess that the Mets will err on the side of depth and protect him.
The Mets’ 40-man roster is currently at 36. Adding the above four players would take it to 40, but the club should be able to clear at least a handful of slots in the coming days and weeks by removing players such as Jordany Valdespin, Frank Francisco, and Scott Atchison.
We’ll find out tomorrow which way the Mets go.