What Should the Plan be Starting Pitching Wise Heading Into 2014?

By Danny Abriano

During the last few weeks of the 2013 season, and since its conclusion, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has been talking about the need for the team to add one reliable starting pitcher from outside the organization.  He’s also spoken about the potential of an in-house starting pitching candidate breaking camp with the team.

Jul 26, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia (58) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

While speaking with the media and during interviews, Alderson has always noted that three pitchers are locks for next year (barring trades or health issues).  Those pitchers are Jonathon Niese, Zack Wheeler, and Dillon Gee.  Now what Matt Harvey has chosen to undergo Tommy John surgery, the Mets can proceed with the rest of their offseason accordingly – knowing that Harvey will miss most, if not all of the 2014 campaign.

The Mets have been linked to a host of free agent pitchers (some who played for them in 2013, some who didn’t).  In addition to those pitchers, the Mets have an internal candidate in Jenrry Mejia, and three pitching prospects who are close to major league ready in Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that one of them (most likely Montero) breaks camp with the team, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening.  So, what do the Mets need to do this off-season starting pitching wise?

With Niese, Wheeler, and Gee locked in, the club should be looking to do two things:

1. Sign a high upside starting pitcher to a deal that doesn’t exceed two guaranteed years

  • Matt Harvey will be back by 2015, and the Mets have a number of pitching prospects who are close to ready.  With that in mind, the club shouldn’t be interested in making a long term commitment to an external starting pitcher.  Bronson Arroyo‘s name has been bandied about, but he’s seeking three years.  If he won’t settle for less than that, he shouldn’t be of interest to the Mets.  Pitchers the Mets should consider include Tim Hudson, Scott Kazmir, and Tim Lincecum.  All of them have upside, and all of them are likely to sign for one or two guaranteed years.

2. Sign a few starting pitchers who can compete with Jenrry Mejia and the prospects in spring training

  • If it were up to me, I would give Jenrry Mejia a rotation spot out of spring training assuming he’s healthy.  The Mets haven’t been mentioning him much, so it’s not clear what their line of thinking is.  If the Mets sign a high upside starting pitcher this off-season, that would mean four of five rotation spots are filled heading into camp.  The other one would be up for grabs.  If that is indeed the case, the team should sign one or two Aaron Harang or Daisuke Matsuzaka types to compete for that final spot with the internal candidates.  In the ideal scenario, those pitchers would be beaten out by either Mejia or one of the prospects, and would either opt out of their deal or serve as insurance in Triple-A Buffalo.

…the Mets have a bunch of needs to address, but the most pressing ones are of the offensive variety.  They have some work to do starting pitching wise heading into 2014, but it shouldn’t require heavy lifting.

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