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Mets MLB trade rumors: 5 pitchers that could be on the market

Frankie Montas Mets trade rumors MLB
Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Frankie Montas (47) throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Darren Yamashita)

The cavalry is on the way for the New York Mets’ starting rotation, but that still doesn’t guarantee any sort of competent depth as we approach the second half of the season. 

Max Scherzer, who has been out since May 18 with a left oblique strain, could take the hill on Sunday against the Miami Marlins while Jacob deGrom’s season debut after suffering a stress reaction in his right scapula won’t be too far behind.

But last week saw Tylor Megill shut down for four weeks due to a shoulder issue, which is already the second time this season he’s been put on the shelf due to injuries. Wednesday saw the Mets’ rotational ranks get even thinner when Carlos Carrasco exited his disastrous start against the Houston Astros in the third inning due to lower back tightness.

While it’s uncertain whether or not he’ll miss time, the Mets are currently left with David Peterson, Taijuan Walker, Trevor Williams, and Chris Bassitt as their only healthy starting-pitching options right now — and Williams has been used more as a three-to-four-inning opener given his usual role as a reliever. 

For a team that possesses the best record in the National League, the biggest pitfall that can trip the Mets up is their pitching, meaning general manager Billy Eppler should be busy over the next month ahead of Major League Baseball’s trade deadline on Aug. 2.

Here’s an early look at five starting-pitching candidates that could help solidify the Mets’ rotation as a top-tier unit moving forward.

Potential Mets trade targets: Starting pitchers

Frankie Montas, RHP, Oakland Athletics

  • 2022 stats: 3-7, 3.53 ERA, 1.139 WHIP, 9.3 K/9
  • Age: 29
  • Contract status: Arbitration Year 3 in 2023

Montas finished sixth in the AL Cy Young Award voting last season and most of his numbers are similar if not better than in 2021. His WHIP is down, his strikeouts-per-walk are up, his hard-hit percentage has dropped nearly 6%, and his control has improved. The problem is that he’s working in front of a miserable Athletics defense that sold everything during the winter. His slider has become one of his most devastating pitches this season, with opponents batting just .149 against it. The splitter, which he uses at nearly double the rate, has opponents batting just .186, per Fangraphs

 

Luis Castillo, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Luis Castillo
Cincinnati Reds’ Luis Castillo throws during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Cincinnati, Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
  • 2022 stats: 2-4, 3.71 ERA, 1.137 WHIP, 8.6 K/9
  • Age: 29
  • Contract status: Arbitration Year 3 in 2023

Another case of an ace playing for a bad team, Castillo’s numbers again don’t tell the whole story — though it’s important to note that his strikeouts are down. Still, the 29-year-old righty is considered the best pitcher on the trade market this summer. On far more competitive Reds teams between 2019-2020, he went 19-14 with a 3.35 ERA, 1.166 WHIP, and 10.9 K/9. He’s allowed just 40 hits in 51 innings of work this season behind a fastball that’s averaging nearly 97 mph and has opponents batting just .188 against it. 

 

Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers

Martin Perez
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez throws to the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
  • 2022 stats: 5-2, 1.96 ERA, 1.134 WHIP, 7.3 K/9
  • Age: 31
  • Contract status: Contract expires after 2022 (UFA)

If you want to talk value and surprises, Martin Perez has been an absolute revelation for the Texas Rangers this season after he signed a one-year deal worth just $4 million. This after he started 22 games and appeared in another 14 as a reliever last year with the Boston Red Sox, posting a 4.74 ERA. It all comes down to whether or not the Rangers believe they can make a playoff push, but if they nosedive in the coming weeks, they’ll be getting a ton of calls of Perez. 

 

Pablo Lopez, RHP, Miami Marlins

Pablo Lopez
Miami Marlins starting pitcher Pablo Lopez throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • 2022 stats: 5-3, 2.61 ERA, 1.065 WHIP, 9.0 K/9
  • Age: 26
  • Contract status: Under team control through 2024 (2 years of arbitration)

Lopez continues to develop into one of the best young pitchers in the National League. He ranks seventh in the senior circuit in WAR for pitchers, fifth in ERA, and eighth in innings pitched as he’s created quite a pitching duo with Sandy Alcantara. The problem is, the Marlins need a little bit of everything, and considering they’re not a franchise that’s going to spend top dollar to retain soon-to-be free agents, Lopez immediately becomes trade bait. It’s unlikely that they would trade in the division to the Mets, but it’s a big name to keep an eye on. 

 

Merrill Kelly, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Merrill Kelly
Arizona Diamondbacks’ Merrill Kelly throws during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
  • 2022 stats: 6-4, 3.46 ERA, 1.295 WHIP, 7.6 K/9
  • Age: 33
  • Contract status: Signed through 2024 (Team option for 2025)

The chances of Kelly being dealt by the Diamondbacks will come down to whether or not they can deal Madison Bumgarner and his massive contract. If they can’t, the likelihood of Kelly being traded increases. The 33-year-old’s value, like Perez’s, has never been higher. He started the season with a 1.71 through his first seven outings of the season before a bit of a slump. Over his last three starts though, he’s averaging 6.1 innings per outing with a 2.84 ERA.

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