The New York Mets have given us more clarity on their plan for the 2024 rotation. The front office will make every effort to sign Yamamoto now that Steven Cohen and David Stearns have traveled to Japan to meet with the young phenom. Even if the Mets sign Yamamoto, this is just one arm for a ballclub that needs multiple. Currently, the Mets have 3 locks for the rotation: Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana, and Luis Severino. Quite simply put, this is not enough for a 162-game schedule.
At the Winter Meetings, Stearns had commented regarding Yamamoto, "If we don't get him, we'll adjust and go down alternate paths". We can interpret these comments in a multitude of manners, but the alternative path is likely a rotation built around short-term deals with an eye toward the 2024-25 free agency period. Assuming that is the case, which starting pitching options are still available on a one-year contract?
1. Jack Flaherty
Jack Flaherty can be best described as the St. Louis Cardinals version of Noah Syndergaard- he came up to the majors with a boom but could never stay healthy enough to reach his ceiling. In his first full season in 2018, Flaherty pitched to a 3.34 ERA in 28 starts and 151 innings pitched. He would then follow that up in 2019 with a 2.75 ERA in 33 starts and 231 strikeouts in 196.1 innings pitched. Sounds familiar to 2015 and 2016 Syndergaard, right?
The correlation between the two former aces goes even deeper. Flaherty only made 32 starts between 2020 and 2022, missing time with repeated oblique and shoulder injuries. 2023 is the first time he has pitched a full season and has yet to regain his form from 2019. Last season, he pitched to a 4.99 ERA in 144.1 innings, splitting time between the Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles. Like Syndergaard with the Cleveland Guardians, Flaherty was pulled from the Orioles rotation before the season had even ended.
Though Flaherty did not pitch well in 2023, he is still a great low-cost high-reward candidate for a team that is seeking arms on short-term contracts. Still, at just 28 years old, there is a case to be made Flaherty can reinvent himself the way Bartolo Colon or C.C. Sabathia did later in their careers. The idea with Flaherty is the same as with Severino: we are not expecting an ace, but a solid starting pitcher that takes the ball every time out.