How the Mets can react to the Cardinals setting the market for starting pitching

It's going to cost quite a bit to land even an average starting pitcher this offseason.
New York Mets v Detroit Tigers          .
New York Mets v Detroit Tigers . / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

Lance Lynn at $10 million and Kyle Gibson at $12 million aren’t exactly steals. Yet that’s what the St. Louis Cardinals thought was a fair enough price to bring the pair to their starting pitcher-needy roster. Lynn even has an option for 2025 and some incentives where he can make more. For teams also on the hunt for some starters on their same level, like the New York Mets, it won’t come cheaply.

This winter’s free agent class includes multiple other arms who could be had for a one-year deal either due to age, the player’s performance last year, or any other reason you want to justify it. While Gibson did perform well for the Baltimore Orioles, Lynn got hammered with the Chicago White Sox and then a little less so with the Los Angeles Dodgers. There doesn’t appear to be much bias toward the previous year. Pitchers are getting paid off of what teams believe they can do for them in the coming season.

Herein lies a question for the Mets. Do you settle on seemingly somewhat expensive deals for players of Lynn or Gibon’s ilk or do you go in a different direction?

The Mets shouldn’t throw money at pitchers they aren’t so sure about

Is Lynn really going to have a much better season than someone like Joey Lucchesi could? Even Tylor Megill, as bad as times were last year, can equal him. The Cardinals are definitely hoping for a much better performance from him this year. But for the Mets who’ll be a little more careful about how and where they spend money, the wiser approach is to pour their money into ensuring they get Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Jordan Montgomery or whoever else they deem as the second best available fit.

We can already count out the qualifying offer players from landing with the Mets aside from maybe Shohei Ohtani and he’s becoming a bigger longshot. Blake Snell and Sonny Gray are the two pitchers left with the qualifying offer penalty attached. Neither is worth losing two draft picks over when they have other options.

It seems wasteful to spend $10+ million on a pitcher such as Luis Severino when he has been so unhealthy and, at least last year, not himself. Really good starting pitchers are only earning about double or less of what Lynn and Gibson got from the Cardinals. The major difference is in the number of years.

Lucchesi may not be the most appealing option for the rotation, but in a fifth starter role compared to so many others, it’s not a terrible gamble. The Mets should be on the look for replacing the starting pitcher depth they’d lose by promoting Lucchesi. The place to do this is in a trade for an arm with options.

The ideal scenario for the Mets rotation always has been and will remain signing Yamamoto, the best non-qualifying offer pitcher they can get, and making a trade for a young arm with years of control. The Cardinals striking early in the offseason and paying their new additions some good money confirms this.