In what was expected to be an offseason full of reshaping the New York Mets roster in advance of the 2022 season, things will be even more different than anticipated. Noah Syndergaard has rejected the Mets' qualifying offer and is headed to Anaheim on a one-year $21 million-dollar deal.
While he was definitely full of his own question marks, Syndergaard was expected to accept the Qualifying Offer and slide in right behind of Jacob deGrom in the Mets rotation in 2022. With that no longer possible, the Mets have some very interesting decisions to make.
One thing is for certain. The Mets desperately need a number two starter.
If the season started tomorrow, the Mets rotation would consist of Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, Tylor Megill, and David Peterson. It's safe to say that if they have any dreams of competing, that's not good enough.
The most consistent starter on the Mets staff this past season was Marcus Stroman. He was the one guy they could rely upon to take the ball every fifth day and give the Mets five or six quality innings.
deGrom was deGrom in the first half but didn't pitch in the second half due to injury. Taijuan Walker was a National League All-Star in the first half and had an ERA over 7.00 in the second half. Carlos Carrasco missed the first half due to injury and wasn't particularly effective when he did pitch.
The question has to be asked. With Noah Syndergaard gone and Marcus Stroman entering free agency who should be the number two starter?
The Mets should do whatever they can to acquire Luis Castillo.
It's being reported that pretty much any player making money on the Reds is available in trade talks. This includes their ace, Luis Castillo.
2021 was a very up and down year for the 28-year-old. Castillo went 8-16 with a 3.98 ERA in 33 starts for the Reds. It was really a tale of two halves for the right-hander. He had a 4.65 ERA in 19 first-half starts followed by a 3.18 ERA in his 14 second half starts.
The 3.18 ERA is much closer to what Castillo had been in each of the last two seasons. If they're able to acquire him, the Mets would be getting a reliable arm, something they lacked this past season.
Reliable is the key word. Not only is Castillo a stud, he's someone who can be relied upon to take the ball every fifth day and eat innings. Castillo made 33 starts this season and has made 30+ starts in each of the three full seasons he's pitched in the Major Leagues.
The Mets' only starter to make 30+ starts this season was Marcus Stroman who they might lose in free agency. Taijuan Walker made 29, but he has an extensive injury history. Third on the games started list was Tylor Megill with 18 starts. Having starters who could take the ball was a huge issue for this Mets team.
Even with his up and down season, Castillo only allowed 0.9 HR/9. When making most of his starts at Great American Ballpark, a park which is incredibly hitter friendly, giving up fewer than 1 HR/9 is super impressive.
Castillo's walks were up as he had a 3.6 BB/9 this season. I do believe that can be improved upon, however. With his ability to strike guys out (9.8 K/9 in his career) and keep the ball in the ballpark (1.1 HR/9 in his career), Castillo definitely has the foundation in place to be one of the games best.
Castillo has electric stuff and is someone I'd most definitely expect to make his second All-Star team this season. I believe when right, he's better than both Syndergaard and Stroman.
Castillo still has two years of team control before hitting free agency so the price tag will be hefty but the Mets do have some prospects and big-league talent to trade.
I would not want them to trade Francisco Alvarez but if the Reds were interested in someone like Ronny Mauricio then I think the Mets should strongly consider.