If you’re a free-agent starting pitcher that has had some semblance of major-league success in the recent past, there is a good chance the New York Mets will take a flyer on you.
Multiple reports — including those from SNY’s Andy Martino and Metsmerized’s Tim Ryder — the Mets are preparing to or have already reached out to a litany of free-agent starters since Steve Cohen’s closed the deal to take over the club as the majority owner.
Names that have already emerged as potential targets include Charlie Morton, Corey Kluber, and Mike Minor (h/t Ryder) — which the Mets have already checked in on.
The newfound aggression on the free-agency market ushered in by Cohen’s arrival is only a signal of things to come under the richest owner in Major League Baseball.
When it comes to adding some much-needed depth within the starting rotation, a source added to amNewYork Metro on Monday that “no stone will be left unturned.”
Considering Cohen’s affluence within an MLB market that sees a majority of its teams either shedding salary or penny-pinching after losing a combined $3.1 billion due to the COVID-19 epidemic this summer, it’s an understandable and logical approach that’s being taken by the Mets.
They have the potential to outbid 90% of the league and they are starving for legitimate starting-pitching depth — which has been an Achilles heel of the organization for years.
The Mets’ ability to retain Marcus Stroman on an $18.9 million qualifying offer last week was a crucial first step in the right direction to start building that reliable staff behind two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.
But there are still numerous holes to address, though.
Noah Syndergaard is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is expected to miss early portions of the 2021 season. Meanwhile, Steven Matz may have run out of chances to stay in the rotation after posting a 9.68 ERA in nine appearances last season.
Neither Michael Wacha nor Rick Porcello worked out during their one-year deals and are not expected to return to the organization, but David Peterson did emerge as a legitimate southpaw option during his rookie campaign.
That leaves the Mets with a current Opening Day rotation of:
That’s it, though they could get Syndergaard back between May and July.
Seth Lugo has performed admirably as a starter despite his role flip-flopping from the bullpen to the rotation. Simple logic suggests that the righty should stay a reliever where he’s been far more effective.
Signing a proven veteran arm like Morton, Kluber, Minor, Jake Odorizzi, or Masahiro Tanaka bolsters the bottom of the Mets’ rotation and allows them to flex Matz to the bullpen or have that immediate depth available to plug in any potential holes if injuries strike or Peterson experiences a sophomore slump of sorts.
That’s also not to mention a potential pursuit of the crown jewel of the free-agent starting-pitching market: 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer.
The Mets are being tabbed by many to be a major player in the Bauer sweepstakes, which would immediately provide one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in baseball alongside Jacob deGrom.
Suddenly, a dream offseason on the free-agent market could have the Mets possessing the best rotation in baseball (as seen below) rather than one that is constantly in flux:
Hypothetical Mets 2021 Opening Day starting rotation
Charlie Morton/Corey Kluber/Mike Minor/Jake Odorizzi
Such a fivesome would allow the Mets to slowly and safely bring back Syndergaard where they could then flex Peterson into a reserve role alongside Matz as legitimate depth options in 2021.