3 replacements for Max Scherzer in free agency to already start dreaming about

Max Scherzer has pitched his last game for the Mets
Max Scherzer has pitched his last game for the Mets / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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If it wasn't already clear when David Robertson was sent to the Miami Marlins for two young prospects, it certainly is now. The New York Mets are sellers at the trade deadline.

In the midst of a season that has drastically fallen short of expectations, the Mets dealt Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers on Saturday night for Luisangel Acuna, the younger brother of Braves superstar and constant Mets tormentor Ronald Acuna, Jr. With the move, the Mets made a clear statement that they are punting on the Wild Card race and looking toward the future, and this could be just the beginning of the sell-off.

Though Acuna is an exciting prospect, what concerns me today is who will fill Scherzer's spot in the rotation in 2024. Kodai Senga has been the only consistently reliable starter that the Mets have under contract next year, and the upcoming free agent class is not incredibly deep.

Justin Verlander hasn't been bad, but he also hasn't been as good as the Mets expected him to be when they signed him this offseason. Then again, with Scherzer gone after waiving his no-trade clause, it's increasingly likely that Verlander follows suit and finds himself pitching elsewhere within the next week.

What does that leave for 2024? Not a whole lot, if we're being honest. Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson, and Tylor Megill have all had rough seasons. Jose Quintana only recently made his Mets debut. In all likelihood, next season's rotation will look much different, and for Mets fans' sake, we better hope so. Here are three of the top potential targets.

1) NY Mets replacement for Max Scherzer in free agency: Yoshinobu Yamamoto

After finding great success in signing Kodai Senga, the Mets could again look to Japan to make a free agent splash. Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto is one of the most exciting prospects to ever come out of Japan, and the Mets might be the early favorite to procure his services.

Yamamoto has been the Nippon Professional Baseball league's best pitcher, and at only 24 years old, his best years are ahead of him. He's nearly six years younger than Senga, and has been graded even more highly by scouts.

Yamamoto has a plus fastball, a plus curveball, and a wipeout splitter that would be really fun to see next to Senga's ghost fork, while also boasting an elite walk rate. Speaking of Senga, his presence and development could give the Mets an advantage in signing Yamamoto.

Mets general manager Billy Eppler has perhaps the most experience in the majors in signing Japanese stars, having already signed Senga, and Shohei Ohtani during his time with the Angels. Eppler also reportedly took a scouting trip to Japan earlier this year to see Yamamoto in person.

Yamamoto could establish the Mets as the go-to destination for Japanese players going forward, while also representing a change in organizational philosophy. Committing a large contract to a younger player that is still improving would be a welcome change after the underwhelming and overpriced signings of Scherzer and Verlander, two once-great pitchers who are on the back end of their careers.