Who Mets best free agent option is for back of the rotation starting pitcher
- Updated: January 4, 2013
After the trade of Cy Young Award winner RA Dickey, the New York Mets should, and are, in the market for another starting pitcher. Ideally they would want to bring in a pitcher that can accumulate a lot of innings and keep the team in most games they pitch. Additionally, they would like to keep a spot in the rotation held for phenom Zack Wheeler, who should be ready to pitch in the majors this season. MLB trade rumors had the Mets interested in four free agent pitchers. Here is the best fits for the Mets in order of best to worst.
- Shawn Marcum: Marcum has a track record of being a top three pitcher in a team’s respective rotation. Last year in Milwaukee, he was 7-4, 3.70 with 109 Ks in 124 IP, missing some time due to injury. He has a career record of 57-36, 3.76. During his time in Toronto and the Brewers, he has been relatively consistent, keeping his ERA in the low to mid 3.00s and having nearly as many Ks as IP. He could fill the number five spot in the rotation, with the upside of being a top three pitcher in the rotation. If I were the Mets, I would sign Marcum to a 2 year, $12 million deal with some performance incentives.
2. Chris Young: Young, of course, pitched for the Mets last season as well as in 2011. He showed he could stay healthy after undergoing anterior capsule surgery on his right pitching shoulder. I would choose Marcum first, but if that falls through, Young would be an acceptable enough option to bring back for another season. Last season, he was 4-9, 4.15 in 20 starts, with 80 Ks in 115 IP. He has a career record of 53-43, 3.79, pretty similar to Marcum, but with much more time missed due to injury. Young should get a 1 year deal, paying about $4-$5 million for the season. I can also see Young improving after being another year removed from his operation and like the fact that he feels comfortable pitching for the Mets.
3. Carl Pavano: Pavano would only be an option if both Marcum and Young don’t sign. Perhaps Pavano could be had in addition to one of the before mentioned. I think he has reached a point in his career where he should consider minor league contract offers. Despite missing some time due to injury in 2012, he was just 2-5, 6.00 in 11 starts, with 33 Ks in 63 IP. He will be 37 next season, which should not help his value. For his career, he is 108-107, 4.39 but does have a track record of throwing a lot of innings when healthy. On a minor league deal, he could help but more importantly gives the Mets flexibility of being able to let him go if he no longer has the skills to be an effective starting pitcher. I am not an advocate for Pavano, just think there is little to lose on a minor league deal.
4. Joe Saunders: My issue with Saunders if the fact that I think he will take a deal for more dollars than the Mets can offer. Saunders fits the bill for a pitcher who will eat innings and can help just about all teams in the back of their respective rotations. Last season, Saunders was 9-13, 4.07 in 28 starts for Arizona and Baltimore with 121 Ks in 174 2/3 IP. For his career, he is 78-65, 4.15 and has been a workhorse in rotations for contending teams such as the Angels, Diamondbacks and Orioles. A two year contract should work, but he could get paid about $8-$10 million a season. If I were the Mets, I would only consider signing Saunders if the other free agent options, as well as possible trade options, do not work.