Steven Matz has emerged as a non-tender candidate, but the New York Mets still have one more experiment they should give him.
Steven Matz has emerged as one of the top non-tender candidates for the New York Mets this offseason. His 2020 performance and final year of arbitration-eligibility make him someone the team may prefer to part ways with.
Matz has been a disappointment for several years now and there’s little reason to think he can turn things around.
Perhaps the only chance Matz does have at turning his career around as a member of the Mets is if he can become a bullpen weapon. As the thinking goes, all of the best relievers are failed starters. Matz has succeeded in the first step; failing as a starter. Next, he’ll have a chance to succeed as a reliever.
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Matz doesn’t strike me as the kind of pitcher who could fall into a reliever role and succeed immediately. He doesn’t have that kind of dominance or edge on the mound. This doesn’t mean he’s incapable of becoming a useful reliever.
The Mets may already go into 2021 with Seth Lugo in the rotation which leaves an immediate opening for a multi-inning weapon in relief. Is it possible that after all of these years we see Matz fill the gig?
We shouldn’t expect Matz to look anything like Lugo in the bullpen. They’re two different kinds of pitchers. In his own way, maybe we do see Matz find some more quality innings as a reliever. Far worse pitchers have done it before.
A concern the Mets may have with this plan is that Matz most likely earn over $5 million in 2021. Depending on the ownership situation and other payroll needs, it might be too high of a cost for a shot in the dark.
The benefit of keeping Matz around is that they could always turn to him again in a time of need to start a game on short notice. Even if the team is ready to move on from him starting on a regular basis, it’s nice to have the option sitting there just in case.
Matz’s future in the big leagues will be an interesting one to follow. When he debuted back in 2015, he looked like the next great thing in New York. He pitched well again in 2016 and hasn’t been nearly as good since.
The Mets may want to think about non-tendering Matz this offseason, but without the proper amount of time to see him work as a reliever, I think they keep him around. A lefty pitcher should always have a place in baseball as long as he can reach the plate.
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Matz’s time with the Mets certainly feels like it’s coming to an end. This winter, I don’t think it’s coming via non-tender.