Mets: An offseason plan to bring a World Series victory to Queens
By Michael Calascione
Pitching Free Agent Signings
Zack Wheeler – 4 years $80M
Zack Wheeler is going to have a lot of suitors especially his hometown Atlanta Braves. The team must sign Wheeler because he has proven that he can pitch in New York, he has proven that he can be an above-average pitcher, and he makes the rotation much better than a cheaper option would.
The Mets ideally want to keep the rotation intact for as long as possible. They extended Wheeler the $17.8M qualifying offer so they are comfortable paying him that amount of money at a minimum. To offer him $2.2M more per year and keep the rotation intact for much longer seems to be a no brainer.
Signing Wheeler is the most important move the Mets have to make this offseason. If he does not accept the qualifying offer and wants something more long term it needs to get done.
Without Wheeler in the rotation, it loses a significant leg. Steven Matz has not shown to date to be the same caliber pitcher as Wheeler and would be out of his weight class as a four starter. Any reasonably priced starter on the free-agent market is going to be either more expensive than Wheeler or not as good as him.
If this team is truly in win-now mode, then this is a no brainer because no win-now team lets a pitcher like Wheeler walk out the door.
Will Harris – 2 years $6M
The Mets need at least one bullpen arm to ensure that the deficiencies that occurred in 2019 do not carry over to 2020.
Will Harris is a very underrated bullpen arm having most recently pitched for the Houston Astros. He was a late bloomer, not making his MLB debut until 27 years of age but his numbers speak for themselves. For his career he has pitched to a 2.36 ERA over 396.1 innings and has struck out 9.6 batters per nine.
Since the Mets are spending all this money on the above free agents, they need to find more of a bargain-value free agent for the bullpen. When considering his numbers out of the bullpen one would expect him to command a lot of money. However, Harris is going to be 35 years old on Opening Day, so he is not going to get a lengthy deal lucrative deal like Will Smith or Kenley Jansen would.
This works in the Mets’ favor. Two years for Harris at his advanced age is reasonable and the money may be a little lite but an extra million or two will not make a difference to the Mets because it is really only 20% of that million or two since the payroll will end up being over the luxury tax.
Brad Brach – 1 year $3M with a $3M option for 2021
A familiar face that some fans do not realize is a free agent. He came to the Mets after the Chicago Cubs released him in the beginning of August.
He pitched well for the Mets in 2019 finishing with a 3.68 ERA over 14.2 innings. Brach is a bullpen arm that has pitched in New York and had success so if he does not command a lot of money the Mets should absolutely go after him.
On a one-year deal, Brach would be expendable enough that if it did not work out for some reason the Mets could move on, but it also gives the Mets flexibility only having him for one year guaranteed with the potential for two if he pitches well.
Alex Wood – Minor League Deal
The Mets need starting pitching depth. Brodie Van Wagenen said it at the press conference of Carlos Beltran, and he is correct. The Mets cannot go into 2020 with Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt as their depth.
David Peterson will help since he will be closer to the majors but signing Alex Wood would give the Mets an experienced starting pitcher waiting in the wings in case one of the main five get injured.