In 2015, the New York Mets went to the World Series with a starting pitching staff built almost entirely via the draft. Even Noah Syndergaard came up through the system following a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. You can practically consider him homegrown.
This has been the case with many Mets pitching staffs to make it to the finals. The 1969, 1973, and 1986 clubs all had starting staffs made up mostly of guys who were once minor leaguers within the franchise. The 2000 season was a different story and an example of what this current club may need to do.
The state of the Mets starting rotation is not a good one. Jacob deGrom’s questionable health, Taijuan Walker’s questionable durability to get through a full productive season, and Carlos Carrasco’s questionable everything gives the organization three question marks already with their top three starters. Include the younger arms like Tylor Megill and David Peterson and we suddenly have enough question marks to fill The Riddler’s suit.
The free agent starting pitcher market doesn’t do the Mets many favors
Who is the best starting pitcher free agent this year? Robbie Ray won the American League Cy Young but doesn’t have the track record to build your whole offseason around. Marcus Stroman has been one of the more consistent starters in recent seasons, but everything seems to point toward him signing elsewhere.
The future Hall of Fame starters available this winter are all well past their prime and come with health or performance concerns. Max Scherzer is a finishing touch these days, not a rotation savior.
A lot of free agents had incredible 2021 seasons. Add Carlos Rodon and Kevin Gausman to the names already mentioned. Neither has exactly lit the world on fire from the mound on a regular basis from year to year.
How do the Mets solve this starting pitcher dilemma?
If we lock deGrom, Walker, and Carrasco into the rotation next year, this leaves the Mets with two spots to fill. Until recently, I thought for sure one would belong to Syndergaard. Silly me, you, and everyone else we know.
Free agency is definitely the best route to take. The Mets need to sign at least one of the available players even if he’s not ideal. As long as it doesn’t cost them the 14th pick in the draft, it’s a risk I’d be willing to take. You never know if a guy like Rodon has suddenly found his best stuff and is about to embark on a nice string of seasons.
If the free agent market is unkind to the Mets, a trade to help a club shed some salary works for the other spot. If money is, as Steve Cohen has hinted, not an obstacle for general manager Billy Eppler, a trade strictly to provide salary relief makes a lot of sense.
I’m not quite sure who that pitcher out there is. Carrasco made too much sense last winter on a Cleveland team looking to save money. It didn’t work then, but perhaps there’s someone who does fit what the Mets need.
It’s a shame that a lot of what the club did last winter needs re-fixing. In particular, because the Mets have typically been known for their pitching prowess, to have it be their rotation that is in disarray gives us all an unfamiliar feeling of dread.