The New York Mets aren’t finished with their offseason plans and if they want to solidify their championship roster, they should call the Pittsburgh Pirates about Joe Musgrove.
Sign Trevor Bauer! Sign George Springer! Trade for Kris Bryant! New York Mets fans have a lot of ideas for this team.
These are the demands from #MetsTwitter following the blockbuster trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. While some might suggest Mets fans are getting greedy, all the indications from the front office are aligned with the resounding sentiment being the team is not done making moves.
The clamoring for the big names that are available is certainly understandable. Adding George Springer would unquestionably give the Mets the best lineup in baseball and adding Trevor Bauer would draw a genuine debate about who had the best rotation in the league.
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However, the Mets have expressed numerous times the desire for flexibility within their payroll. With an estimated $28M in cap space before crossing the luxury tax, signing Springer or Bauer doesn’t give them a ton of flexibility if the goal is to stay below that tax threshold.
Both Sandy Alderson and Jared Porter suggested that the $210M luxury tax isn’t necessarily a line they need not cross, but given the fact that the team still has some areas to sure up, it would make more sense to use that same money on multiple areas.
“But we need a centerfielder!”
Yes, the team would be in better shape if they had a true centerfielder who could field the position and it would be an added bonus if that centerfielder could hit. I realize this sounds an awful lot like Springer, but I’d contend that a George Springer isn’t necessary to compete anymore. As it stands right now, the Mets are an offensive powerhouse on paper and while adding the likes of Springer would only cement that notion, it would severely limit the Mets’ ability to both fill other holes and have payroll flexibility at the trade deadline.
It’s also important to note that while the team should be looking to improve in all areas, their starting pitching was a bigger weakness than the centerfield position last year. The Mets would be in better shape on the field with Jackie Bradley, Jr. manning centerfield than they would be with a Steven Matz (who I actually think will be much better in 2021) as their fifth starter. It’s also about depth.
Right now, the Mets have more depth in their lineup than they do in their rotation and if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s this: your starting pitchers are going to get hurt and it’s going to suck if you don’t have depth.
Where the Mets should turn
This brings us to Joe Musgrove. The Pittsburgh Pirates have informed sources that they’re both listening and talking about the 28-year old right-hander and it would be for the Mets benefit to be engaged in that dialogue. After being traded to Pittsburgh by Houston in the deal that netted the Astros Gerrit Cole, Musgrove has been a much more effective pitcher than are seen in his peripherals.
In 2019, he logged a career-high 170 innings pitched while producing a 3.3 fWAR. He also took a step forward in the pandemic shortened 2020 season by posting a 12.48 K/9 and a 3.19 xFIP on a terrible team.
What’s more, is that he’s owed only $3.75M this season and then is arbitration-eligible next year. This is a similar situation to the trade the Mets made at the deadline for Marcus Stroman in 2019, except they’d be getting two years of control for Musgrove. If the Mets were to execute a trade for Musgrove, it would give them a rotation that looked like this until the return of Noah Syndergaard in June:
- Jacob deGrom
- Carlos Carrasco
- Marcus Stroman
- Joe Musgrove
- David Peterson
Once Syndergaard returns, Musgrove would slot to the fifth spot in the rotation and Peterson could be used out of the pen, which would, in turn, give the Mets another lefty arm. The point is, the Mets need depth and quality innings. While I’m for signing a James Paxton or Corey Kluber to a one-year-show-me deal, they’re more of a guarantee to spend time on the IL than they are to give a bulk of effective innings over the course of 162 games.
This would also give the Mets the ability to address their other big need by signing a centerfielder like Bradley, Jr., add another bullpen piece while keeping them flexible to strike a deal at the trade deadline if need be.
The obvious question in this scenario is, what would it cost to get Musgrove? Alderson didn’t sound too bullish on J.D. Davis when mentioned in an interview recently and while the Pirates seem to be set at third base with Ke’Bryan Hayes, Davis’s ability to play left field might give the Pirates some depth for their roster and controllable talent.
The good news is, a player like Musgrove wouldn’t require a top 10 talent, so if the Mets wanted to give some lower-level prospects with potential upside, it could entice the Pirates to get some talent in return before Musgrove enters his last two years of control.
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The Mets are in a prime position to make a championship run and this is the kind of savvy move that would enable them to add both talent and address multiple areas, while not giving up too much. Here’s to hoping Musgrove is toeing the rubber for the Mets in 2021.