Linking up with players he knew well from his Milwaukee Brewers days is an assumption many of us have made with New York Mets President of Baseball Operations David Stearns. It's not uncommon for front office staff or coaches to reunite elsewhere.
There are big names like Josh Hader available in free agency with the Stearns connection. Then there are trade candidates such as Corbin Burnes still on the Milwaukee roster.
Far less mouthwatering would be for the Mets to take a chance on Eric Lauer. He recently elected to become a free agent. Before an abysmal 2023 season, he looked like yet another Brewers pitcher opposing teams could fear. The 28-year-old lefty could be a lot of things for the Mets, if nothing else provides them an opportunity to do something else with any of their other starting pitching depth parts.
Eric Lauer is a worthwhile minor addition for the Mets to make
Lauer began his career with the San Diego Padres basically putting up similar numbers as current Mets pitcher, Joey Lucchesi. He, too, saw himself shipped away from Southern California. It was in 2021 when he showed off that maybe he could be a big league starter.
Lauer’s 2021 and 2022 campaigns were solid. He was 7-5 with a 3.19 ERA in 20 starts and 4 relief appearances in 2021. He followed it up by going 11-7 with a 3.69 ERA in 29 starts in 2022.
This past season is where Lauer sank. At 4-6 with a 6.56 ERA, the good times were quickly erased. He’d spend nearly as many innings in the minor leagues where he wasn’t particularly good either.
Out of minor league options, he only really fits in with the Mets if he can impress them in camp or accepts a minor league contract. It’s not an impossible scenario. Every team should have the same hesitation. He not only fell off a cliff in 2023, he took a couple of tourists with him.
Starting pitching depth is something the Mets have in bunches when looking at fifth or sixth starter quality. Beyond Lucchesi, there’s Jose Butto, Tylor Megill, and David Peterson. The benefit of adding another name like Lauer to the mix is it can convince the Mets enough that maybe one of those other guys could move to the bullpen and fill another need. In that same conversation, could Lauer be a more effective big leaguer if he makes the same change?
Lauer isn’t one of those “must sign” guys out there in free agency. The connection to Stearns is impossible to deny. After all, Stearns liked him before and saw Lauer perform well in the past. Normally, I’m not a fan of taking a chance on a player like this. I’ll make an exception. He was too reliable for consecutive seasons for the Mets to completely ignore him.