While speaking yesterday with Mike Puma of the New York Post, Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo indicated that the Mets are on the list of teams he’s interested in joining this winter when he hits free agency:
"It’s just picking and choosing, what’s the best place for me, trying to win another championship. Where you live, logistically in the world, where your spring training is, it’s all these different factors and I definitely think the Mets are a team that I would look at…there’s going to be a few ballclubs that I probably would be interested in that maybe have enough guys, where they would be like, ‘You know what, we have enough veterans here, we have enough young arms and a nice mix,’ and there’s going to be some ballclubs maybe like the Mets that have that nice mix of young arms, but need somebody to kind of anchor a rotation with 200 innings, so it’s going to be a very interesting offseason for me."
Heading into the offseason, the Mets can be confident that Jonathon Niese, Zack Wheeler, and Dillon Gee will fill three of the five rotation slots in 2014. Matt Harvey‘s status is up in the air. He could be on the mound at Citi Field on Opening Day, or he could be in the middle of his rehab after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
With Harvey’s status unclear, the Mets will need to be six or seven deep in the rotation. Jenrry Mejia will be ready well before spring training and is someone the Mets should be giving every opportunity to as far as being a part of next year’s starting staff. However, his name hasn’t been mentioned by Sandy Alderson for some reason.
Sep 22, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo (61) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. The Reds won 11-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
If you count Harvey out (which shouldn’t be done, but is being done here in the interest of being prudent), the Mets will likely have a 2014 rotation headed by Niese, Wheeler, Gee, and one of Mejia or Rafael Montero to open the season. Noah Syndergaard will likely be ready around June, but the Mets will need one more starter from the get-go in the event Harvey is out.
Sandy Alderson noted a few weeks ago that he would look to fill that slot via free agency, but has been coy as of late regarding what his plans for rounding out the rotation are.
With the Mets in good shape pitching wise even if Harvey misses 2014, it comes down to the type of pitcher the team would go after and the amount of dollars and years they’d be willing to guarantee.
On Metsblog, Matthew Cerrone cites insiders while opining that Arroyo can be snagged for a deal worth $36 million over three years. Arroyo is in the final year of a three year, $35 million dollar deal, so the numbers Cerrone suggests don’t seem off base. Still, that doesn’t mean Arroyo is worth it.
Arroyo will be 37 next season, but has shown no signs of slowing down. Since turning 30, Arroyo has tossed between 199 and 220.1 innings each year (he’s up to 197.1 this year).
However, I wonder if Sandy Alderson would rather go with a higher upside pitcher while looking to guarantee fewer than three years. Harvey will either be pitching in 2014 or returning in 2015. If the Mets signed Arroyo to a three year deal, their 2015 rotation would likely include Harvey, Arroyo, Niese, Wheeler, and Gee. If Harvey is healthy next year, the aforementioned rotation would be what we’d see in 2014 as well. There would be no room for Syndergaard, Montero, or Mejia.
Pitchers break, so the idea that the Mets will get through 2014 and/or 2015 while using just five starters is far fetched. Still, unless the Mets plan on dealing someone from the big league staff (Niese or Gee) or trading both Montero and Syndergaard, it would probably be a smarter move both roster wise and money wise to attempt to fill one of next year’s slots with a higher upside pitcher who will command just one guaranteed year – someone like Tim Hudson.
Signing Arroyo likely wouldn’t be a bad move for the Mets. However, with higher upside pitchers out there who are likely to command less in terms of guaranteed years, and with the Mets expecting both Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard to be ready sooner rather than later, Arroyo for three years guaranteed isn’t the way I’d go.