The Mets are running out of time to rescue the Joey Lucchesi trade

Joey Lucchesi is either part of the plan or someone to trade.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets - Game One
Miami Marlins v New York Mets - Game One / Elsa/GettyImages

Joey Lucchesi is about to embark on his fourth season with the New York Mets which is crazy to think considering he has appeared in only 85 innings for them. It has been a tough ride for the lefty who was finally settling into a starter’s role in 2021 when Tommy John Surgery took him down. He didn’t pitch at all in the majors in 2022 and in 2023 spent all but 9 starts in the minors.

Lucchesi turns 31 this summer and has two years of team control remaining before free agency hits. The Mets haven’t made any sort of commitment to him at any point to secure a starting rotation spot. Based on how this offseason has gone, they were disinterested in having him as anything more than a sixth starter or depth in case of an injury.

Every year with the Mets has been an important one for Lucchesi. One final minor league option remaining makes this the season where the Mets need to decide if he’s a part of their future or someone they should send somewhere else.

In a season of discovery, Joey Lucchesi needs any innings he can get

Lucchesi has put together some very fine numbers during his time with the Mets. At 5-4 with a 3.60 ERA, he managed to raise some eyebrows last year with a 4-0 record and 2.89 ERA performance. A large part of it may have been luck, though. His strikeouts were way down (6.2 per 9) and his walks were over his career rate of 3 per 9 (3.3 per 9 in 2023). Lucchesi wasn’t hit hard, but he was hit against often. The .251/.325/.394 slash line against him doesn’t look nearly as good as the ERA he finished the year with.

What are the Mets to make of what they saw from Lucchesi last year? Maybe not much at all. He wasn’t spectacular in Triple-A. His promotions throughout the season came for spot starts. He delivered often and the team rewarded him with a couple more in the second half of the season when the white flag had already begun to turn brown from all of the flying it had done above Citi Field for months.

The same curiosity we have about what Lucchesi can become if healthy exists for other major league teams. More patient ball clubs should view Lucchesi as a back-end starter who won’t cost a whole lot. Once that final minor league option is used up, presumably to start 2024 if everyone is healthy, the clock ticks a little louder on his time in New York.

The Mets might not be so lucky to reverse what they gave up to get Lucchesi in the first place. Noted Pittsburgh Pirates youngster Endy Rodriguez quickly became a top 100 prospect after leaving the Mets organization. In a trade headlined mostly by Joe Musgrove going to the San Diego Padres from the Pirates, the Mets as the third-party in this deal have been rewarded the least.

Lucchesi on the 2024 roster makes sense and maybe even in 2025 as a more affordable fifth or even sixth starter. After all, the Mets can’t sign everyone.