Mets are in the same position with Steven Matz as they were with Travis d’Arnaud
By Tim Boyle
Steven Matz is at the same point with the New York Mets as Travis d’Arnaud was just before he began to blossom with another team.
Steven Matz’s 2020 season has been so bad I would label him as a non-tender candidate this winter. The New York Mets lefty is 0-5 with a 9.79 ERA in 26.2 innings pitched. There’s one year left of control on his contract which means a few things. One that comes to mind whenever he steps on the mound is that it could be his last time with this club.
Matz has been majorly disappointing since 2017. While things were never quite this bad, Matz failed to become a reliable start in the Mets’ rotation. Injuries hurt him early on. Mediocrity defined him in 2018 and 2019.
While the Mets could part ways with him this winter by non-tendering him a contract, I worry this may have the same result as when they released Travis d’Arnaud in May of 2019.
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d’Arnaud’s circumstance was different. He was actually tendered a contract. But when he got off to a poor start, the Mets designated him for assignment. He eventually found himself with the Tampa Bay Rays after a short stop with the Los Angeles Dodgers. While in Tampa Bay, he began to hit.
In 365 trips to the plate with the Rays, d’Arnaud slashed .263/.323/.459 with 16 home runs. It was an offensive explosion Mets fans had never seen before.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, d’Arnaud is having an even better year with the Atlanta Braves in 2020. He’s going to finish the season with a batting average of .300 and should have other offensive numbers rivaling what he did in New York but in far fewer opportunities.
What does this have to do with Matz? Like Peter Parker’s Spidey-sense, I’m getting this pain.
It’s that pain when a team gets rid of a player for nothing only to see him bloom with another organization. Mets fans know it well. Nolan Ryan. Kevin Mitchell. Jeff Kent. Dozens more.
When a player is released, you want it to be the end of their success. For d’Arnaud, it was only the beginning.
Matz will play 2021 in his age 30 season—the same as d’Arnaud did last year in his final stint with the Mets. The parallels between the two are there with each coming up short during his time in New York.
Unfortunately, the Mets don’t have much of a choice with Matz. He has zero trade value and holding onto him just to keep him from having a great year somewhere else is ridiculous. All they can really do is find a role for him in 2021 or release him this winter.
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Some players are going to bloom late and the team that groomed him for the first half of his career will suffer from a distance. If his fate is anything like d’Arnaud’s, this could be where he’s heading.