The latest New York Mets rumors have named Sean Manaea as a target for the pitching staff. We’ve come a long way since the Yoshinobu Yamamoto sweepstakes. What other choices do we have left?
Manaea, a lefty heading into his age 32 season, was not so long ago among the starting pitchers on an Oakland Athletics roster destined to get traded. The Mets picked up former teammate Chris Bassitt ahead of the 2022 season. Manaea ended up traded as well, landing with the San Diego Padres for a season.
He’d find his way into free agency last offseason where he inked a deal with the San Francisco Giants. Available yet again, the Mets have to weigh the pros and cons.
The Mets should sign Sean Manaea because of his recent healthy track record
No pitcher these days has a completely clean bill of health. It’s impossible to expect. Manaea, for what it’s worth, has been relatively clear of the IL. The 2019 season is the lone exception. He made just 5 starts all year for Oakland. Fortunately, the injuries haven’t lingered. He has been readily available ever since.
Performance-wise, Manaea has been trending downward since leaving the Athletics. An uptick in home runs during the 2022 season could be one reason as to why his career 3.86 ERA jumped up to 4.96 with the Padres—a personal worst for him. Last year, with the Giants, Manaea’s 4.44 ERA happened to be spread out over 10 starts and another 27 relief appearances. His 3.90 FIP suggests he was the victim of some bad luck.
Good health expectations isn’t something the Mets can guarantee from Luis Severino, Jose Quintana, and even Kodai Senga whose contract has clauses in it. Manaea is no guarantee either, but he has proven durability that might break a tie.
The Mets should avoid Sean Manaea because he doesn’t have the same upside as others
In 10 starts for the Giants last year, Manaea was 3-3 with a 4.82 ERA. He was much better in relief, going 4-3 with a 4.18 ERA. The regression is unfortunate yet not unexpected. Now just over 1,000 innings into his MLB career, Manaea is probably a 5.00 ERA starter and a slightly more effective reliever.
What exactly are the Mets looking for in free agency? If it’s someone to eat up innings and be the definition of a fifth starter, Manaea is a fit. Can he recapture what made him an asset early on in his career? Two straight seasons with similar results suggest it might not be so possible.
Manaea’s career trajectory puts him on a path toward a full-time shift to the bullpen where maybe he can become a late-inning threat. For now, he’s viewed as a starter pitcher. Why wouldn’t he advertise himself as such? The Mets could end up as the last team giving him a chance to start regularly if they believe in him enough.