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Mets need to get moving, especially on starting pitching market

Marcus Stroman Mets
Marcus Stroman
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Every passing second is a second wasted for the Mets. 

An offseason that began in early October has dragged, bogged down by front-office uncertainty that ultimately led to a second-straight year of whiffing on a president of baseball operations before settling on hiring just a general manager. 

Even that isn’t official yet, as former Yankees and Angels exec Billy Eppler is reportedly nearing a four-year deal with the club.

Once he’s in place, they’ll need to bring on a manager, too. 

A lot of work still to do before the Mets can confidently make their way to the free-agent market to try and lure the game’s top free agents to come to Queens. 

Sure, owner Steve Cohen can outbid any team in baseball for a player’s signature. But you can’t put a price on organizational structure, which the Mets are clearly lacking. It would be advantageous for a player willing to commit multiple years to a franchise to know who his manager will be — or his general manager. 

While the Mets iron out the final details of their leadership core, the market is already moving and threatening to leave them behind; especially on the starting-pitching front that is becoming a larger area of need for the franchise.

Eduardo Rodriguez, Jose Berrios, and Justin Verlander are already off the market as the hot stove is getting an earlier start due to the ever-increasing possibility of a lockout next month. 

The Mets’ starting rotation is in limbo after Noah Syndergaard chose a fistful of dollars from the Angels rather than accepting New York’s $18.4 million qualifying offer. The righty chose more money, as he’ll make $21 million next season, but it has also been documented how the Angels legitimately courted Syndergaard, taking him out to dinner and remaining in constant contact rather than throwing an offer and responding with radio silence, as the Mets did. 

Quite an indictment of disorganization amongst the Mets, which has now trickled down to a starting rotation that was once the foundation of this team. 

Jacob deGrom’s health is an issue despite being the best pitcher in baseball after an injury-riddled 2021 robbed us of one of the greatest pitching seasons of the modern era. 

Taijuan Walker, who has dealt with arm injuries in recent years, imploded under a full workload in the second half after an All-Star-worthy spring.

Carlos Carrasco’s Mets debut was pushed back to July 30 after he was bitten by the injury bug, too.

David Peterson was unimpressive before he was shut down for the 2021 season. Jordan Yamamoto and Joey Lucchesi also did not stay healthy — though relying on them toward the bottom of the rotation is a significant wild card at this point. 

The Mets’ top arm last season, Marcus Stroman, is one of the biggest names available on the free-agent market, and retaining him now becomes paramount. The 30-year-old is coming off a career year in which he posted a 3.02 ERA in 179.0 innings pitched to go with 158 strikeouts. 

Industry consensus suggests that he could receive a contract worth near $125 million over five years. 

But the Mets need more, and a big splash that Eppler is no stranger to making would come in the form of Max Scherzer.

Max Scherzer Mets
Max ScherzerBrett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The 37-year-old righty isn’t a long-term solution, but potentially pairing two of the National League’s greatest arms of this generation in his and deGrom’s is as tantalizing a possibility as ever. 

Scherzer was brilliant once again in 2021 with the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, finishing third in the NL Cy Young Award voting while putting on a blistering display in the second half in which he went 7-0 in 11 starts with a 1.98 ERA.

The Mets could throw the bag at the three-time Cy Young Award winner and future Hall of Famer, but of course, it depends on whether the long-time National and division rival would want to don the orange and blue in New York.

This year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Robbie Ray, is also a free agent and would provide an immediate upgrade to the rotation as well. The 30-year-old southpaw boasted a career-best 2.84 ERA in 2021, but he’s lacked consistency, posting a 4.26 ERA over his first seven professional seasons.

Stroman has proven that he can carry the rotation in Queens while Scherzer is as much of a lock as anything in the National League, which is why they should be the Mets’ top-two options this season.

And it would make the Mets’ rotation look far more imposing than it currently does:

  1. Jacob deGrom
  2. Max Scherzer
  3. Marcus Stroman
  4. Carlos Carrasco
  5. Taijuan Walker

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