The New York Mets have a couple of non-tender candidates on the roster, but no sure bets. The best non-tender candidates tend to be pricy, underperforming, or in this case, hurt.
Scavenging through all of the arbitration-eligible names on the Mets, their projected totals, and where they stand with the team, there is one guy who looks almost definitely bound for free agency. It’s Joey Lucchesi.
Joey Lucchesi’s time with the Mets could be over before it really started
Lucchesi was offseason pickup for the club last winter and managed to make 8 starts and 3 relief appearances for them in 2021. The 1-4 record and 4.46 ERA hardly tells his story. Lucchesi was more of an opener-squared. Whenever he did start games, we knew the bullpen was going to get some heavy work in.
Unfortunately, just as he was getting the length to go deeper in games and pitching effectively, Tommy John Surgery struck him. Lucchesi’s campaign ended early and with the major surgery, he was knocked out for all of 2022 as well.
This has left the Mets with a rotten decision to make. Do you kick a guy further while he’s down or do you pay him the projected $1.6 million to rehab and wait to see what he offers them in 2023?
The Mets were in a drastically different situation with Noah Syndergaard last year. Also out for all of 2020 due to Tommy John Surgery, Syndergaard has at least built up a strong resume. The thought was that he would have been back much sooner than late September. Setbacks snuck up on him and we didn’t see Thor pitch for the Mets until their postseason dreams were dead.
The $1.6 million expected to land in Lucchesi’s pocket might not sound like much in baseball terms. I think it’s around the total number of dollars Steve Cohen keeps in his back pocket at all times in case he gets a nose bleed and has to stop it. Significant enough, it could be the difference between going to arbitration with a different player and the two sides agreeing to a deal.
Despite all of his billions, Cohen and his club have a budget to work with. The $1.6 million, or whatever it ends up being for Lucchesi, could help them retain a different player without going over how much they’re willing to pay.
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Lucchesi didn’t give the Mets quite enough this year to wait on him for the 2023 campaign. The unknown of what he will be when he does return is a major factor as well. They’ll end up giving him a whole new yearly salary upon his return. Sadly, fans of the churve sign will have to live with the 2021 memories.