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Why the Mets should consider Michael Wacha as a long-term option

LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 25: Michael Wacha #45 of the New York Mets pitches during the Spring Training game against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on February 25, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. The Tigers defeated the Mets 9-6. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 25: Michael Wacha #45 of the New York Mets pitches during the Spring Training game against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on February 25, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. The Tigers defeated the Mets 9-6. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
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Michael Wacha has yet to pitch a regular-season game for the New York Mets, but he’s already someone the team should think about for the future.

The uncertainty surrounding the 2020 MLB season has left teams, players, and fans trying to wrap their minds around an unprecedented set of circumstances. New York Mets fans are no exception.

Will be the start of the season be delayed? Will it be shortened? Is there a chance the season is canceled outright, leaving baseball fans waiting until the 2021 season for normalcy to resume?

Along with everyone else, the Mets could be drastically affected by an adjusted season. Key players like Marcus Stroman, Yoenis Cespedes, Wilson Ramos, Dellin Betances, and Rick Porcello could potentially move to other teams before the start of next season.

This would leave General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen in the unenviable position of deciding which players to target and which to allow to move on. There is one underrated pending free agency who I believe the Mets should make a priority to re-sign: newly acquired pitcher Michael Wacha.

The Talent

Wacha has put together a solid MLB career. The seven-year veteran posted a 59-39 record with a 3.91 ERA and 759 strikeouts (all with the St. Louis Cardinals). The best season of his career came in 2015 when he recorded 17 wins and a 3.38 ERA. He also made the NL All-Star team that season and was named NLCS MVP in the 2013 season.

After posting a 5+ ERA in 2016 and a 4+ ERA in 2017, Wacha settled back down to the tune of a 3.20 ERA in 2018. However, the following year saw his ERA balloon back up to 4.76 in his appearances as a starter and reliever.

Wacha is clearly looking to return to his prime during his first season in New York. He will be extremely useful if he is able to recapture a portion of the skills he displayed from 2013-2015. At just 28-years-old, there is every reason to believe that the former ace can remain productive for the next several years.

The Flexibility

The former Cardinals’ past production isn’t the only reason why Mets fans should be excited to have him on the team. He also profiles as a potential Swiss army knife on the pitching staff.

To be fair, Wacha has spent the vast majority of his career as a starter. In fact, he has 151 appearances in that role, compared to just 14 out of the bullpen. The split stats also show that he is much more comfortable being handed the ball at the beginning of a game. He has a 3.82 ERA as a starter. That number inflates to 6.52 as a reliever. However, his relief numbers come from a very limited sample size.

It appeared as though the Mets had planned to use Wacha as a hybrid sixth starter/long reliever. While the Noah Syndergaard injury opens up the door for a more consistent role, the fact that the franchise felt comfortable mixing up his role is an encouraging sign.

This could make him a major asset to the Mets for the next few seasons. The team already has an elite pitching staff. However, their issues with injuries cannot be overlooked. Retaining a player like Wacha, who could immediately transition into a competent starter in the event of an injury seems like a wise move for New York.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, Wacha is a proven MLB talent with the potential to pitch at a high level for several more years. He is also playing the 2020 season on a one year, $3 million contract (with the potential to increase to $7 million if certain incentives are reached).

There are very few downsides to having a 28-year-old former All-Star, who can be used as a weapon in different roles and doesn’t break the bank. The Mets should make retaining Michael Wacha a priority in 2021 and beyond.

Next. Best Mets free agent signings at every position

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What do you think the future holds for Wacha and his relationship with the Mets?

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