Mets Monday Morning GM: The biggest priority after the MLB lockout ends

New York Mets v Miami Marlins
New York Mets v Miami Marlins / Rob Foldy/GettyImages

The New York Mets can get by without adding another offensive player to their roster for the 2022 season. Even if one of the three trade candidates is moved, they have bigger priorities. Specifically, it’s with the pitching staff.

The thought has been the Mets are hoping to acquire at least one more starting pitcher, someone on the caliber of free agent Carlos Rodon or via trade with the talent of Luis Castillo.

There is an abundance of options out there for the Mets to decide from. Finding the right deal is the challenge.

In addition to a starting pitcher, the Mets also need some bullpen help. It’s something they haven’t made any improvements at this winter yet remains a concern. They lost Aaron Loup in free agency and Jeurys Familia (no tears here) as well. A starter and at least one reliever are needed. Which is the bigger priority?

The Mets need a starting pitcher and at least one reliever but what's first?

Relief pitchers are like contractors. You have to catch them on the right day, in the right mood and hope they’re not fighting with their spouses. You want a good deal, you better hope they’re in a good mood. I’ve dealt with some perfectly nice handymen for home repairs that will arrive on time and are polite as can be. They’ll do some work and when you contact them about another project, they disappear completely.

Maybe it’s me; or maybe in a different life, if they knew how to throw a curveball, these guys I’m hiring would have been relief pitchers.

The Mets starting rotation currently sits with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer at the top and a seesaw outcome expected from Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker. Looking at how each performed last year and the season prior, I could expect everything from getting shelled to a Cy Young candidacy.

It’s that final spot in the rotation with the most concern. Does it go to Tylor Megill or David Peterson? This kind of takes away from building a better team. Sure, the Mets are better even with them present at the number five spot in the rotation. However, it feels like the club didn’t do enough.

Meanwhile, the bullpen hasn’t gotten any better just yet. Mets fans know very well how much of a pain an unreliable bullpen can be. It can tank a season.

Unlike the starting pitching crop in free agency, there are still plenty of names to choose from there. The trade market is a little bit different. It’s much more difficult to know who is and who is not available but a guy like Taylor Rogers on the Minnesota Twins is someone to keep an eye on.

The Mets need both but starting pitching reigns supreme

There are only a small number of starting pitchers we can also expect to get traded. Before they do or the price goes up too high, the Mets have to strike.

I’m not sure what the plan is for the Mets bullpen or if the front office even has one. If they miss on the relievers they want, there are a couple of workarounds. Megill or Peterson could always shift to a relief role. A few other guys are capable of giving them length, too. Having guys stretched out and capable of stepping in to start down in Triple-A is smart but it’s also no guarantee they’ll even be very good at the big league level.

As much as the bullpen concerns me, it’s the starting pitching the Mets should focus on. They can accidentally land their best reliever in a free agent deal or lesser trade. If the relief pitcher market swamp goes dry, it’s easier to find a guy to give you 40-50 good innings than it is to snatch someone to give you 180 of them.

Good starting pitching is wasted when you don’t have the bullpen to back them up, though. So, as essential as it is to get starting pitching, the need for a bullpen improvement or two isn’t far behind. The team is fortunate to have some quality arms already on the roster. At least one more makes it much better.

Next. The 11 best starting pitcher trade candidates for the Mets. dark