A left-handed starter with a bit of a resume, youth on his side, and on a team we can expect to possibly trade away players this year. That’s the profile for John Means of the Baltimore Orioles. A guy the New York Mets have had rumored interest in acquiring previously, he should remain on the club’s radar as long as they have a need for another starting pitcher.
Now 348.2 innings into his big league career, Means has gone 20-24 with a 3.82 ERA. His 4.65 FIP suggests he has been lucky but his 122 ERA+ helps remind us he has been pitching in the American League East while calling Camden Yards home.
A move from Baltimore to Citi Field could turn Means into more than a good pitcher on a bad team. It’s something the Mets need to explore as they turn over every rock to build a better, fuller rotation for the coming season.
What John Means could bring to the Mets this season and beyond
Approaching his age 29 campaign, Means is at a good age for the Mets to get several seasons out of him. This year is his first with arbitration eligibility so he could be around for at least three years before a major decision needs to be made. He’s one of those pitchers that if he stays in Baltimore for long we’ll always wonder what he could have been on another team.
Means strikes me as the kind of pitcher we’d like David Peterson to become. Although the two aren’t necessarily comparable in terms of skill, it’s the presence of a big lefty in the rotation that we can link them together with.
Peterson is still a bit of a wild card. Before his successful rookie run in 2020, he was one of those iffy prospects where some believed in him highly and others thought he’d never be much more than a back-of-the-rotation arm. I’m not sure what the perception of Means, a former 11th round draft pick, was when he was coming up with the Orioles. Given how much further down the draft he was taken compared to Peterson (first round), I can’t imagine the expectations were as high until after he actually started to perform well.
There is no requirement to have a left-handed starter in a big league rotation but it can be a useful asset. It’s not about taking down a team stacked with lefties. It’s about making the opponent fall off-balance after facing righties in the other two games of the series.
Means is not a strikeout pitcher, averaging only 7.8 per nine innings in his career. However, he doesn’t walk batters either. He hands out free passes at a rate of 1.8 per nine innings. Means throws strikes and batters are able to make contact against them. A good defense behind him and a ballpark paying him some respect is a good combination. The Mets may be able to offer him this.
Right now, it’s not so much what the Mets can offer Means as much as it is about what they can offer the Orioles. He’s still under their control. The Orioles haven’t had a winning season since 2016 when Buck Showalter was their manager. They’ve had three 100-loss seasons and could have added another in 2020 if there was a full season. Not much will change for them in 2022. In which case, Means should be available in the right deal.
Baltimore is definitely building toward something but it’s still a few seasons away. They’d be looking to add nothing but near-MLB-ready minor league talent to the organization. Dreams of trading them any of the Mets’ big leaguers available should be quickly dashed. The Orioles will have no interest.
Means is the kind of guy the Mets can acquire in exchange for a minor league arm and bat with at least one of them being a more notable prospect. With Adley Rutschman as their best prospect, we can at least rest easy knowing it probably won’t cost us Francisco Alvarez. Everyone else, however, would be on the table and on the list of demands.