Hear me out.
Watching Zack Wheeler leave the Mets hurt.
It’s not that he went to Philadelphia, a division rival. I know that, deep in my heart, the Phillies won’t be able to get out of their own way and are third or fourth place bound for a while.
It’s not that I watched him develop and became overly attached to him or anything. Listen. Would it be really cool if Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard and Matz were all dominating in the same rotation together? Sure, it would.
But, things happen. I’m over it.
My issue is that I watched Wheeler turn a corner in his career. He is a great pitcher, as evidenced by his 2018 and 2019 campaigns. An extension should have been a no-brainer.
Well, here we are.
The Mets missed out on Trevor Bauer, after the right hander decided to pitch in Los Angeles. I’m not crying over it, I just think it’s a good indication of what the market is like for starting pitchers. (Catchers and center fielders too.)
Hey, Brodie. You want to talk about a guy who parlayed a good year or two into a massive payday? Look no further than Trevor Bauer.
Back to the pitching market. The Mets offered Bauer over 40 million dollars a year. When he signed with the Dodgers, who was the fallback option? Jake Odorizzi?
That’s how THIN the pool of available pitchers are!
Guess what? Next year’s crop of pitchers is even worse! Don’t take my word for it. Have a look for yourself. We are going to be trying to talk ourselves into a bunch of 38 year old hurlers next winter and I’m not looking forward to it.
So, yeah. Signing Zack Wheeler would have made a lot of sense and solved all of these problems.
If you run into a Mets fan who thinks this off-season has been a failure, laugh and walk away. Same old Mets? Hardly. Day in and day out the organization is cleaning up the mess that the previous brain trust left behind.
And I want to preface this further by saying I don’t think we are in a bad spot. Thanks to the work the new front office has done.
I believe that the best free agent pitcher available this winter was Marcus Stroman. Acquiring Carlos Carrasco gives the Mets a formidable starting 3. The Amazin’s have cut ties with the “pitching depth” the team trotted out the past few years and now have acquired legitimate fallback options. I’m confident that David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi and those pitchers can hold the fort down until Syndergaard returns.
But, there’s being competitive and then there’s going all-in.
Reports are that the Cubs and Reds have asked for Francisco Alvarez, a top catching prospect the Mets are reluctant to part with. Rightfully so.
Enter James Paxton.
His injury history is well documented. He’s pitched more than 150 innings in a season twice.
This would certainly be a risky move, but with considerable upside. We are talking a one year deal. Reports are that he wants more than 11 million dollars. Ok, offer him 12. If he wants more than that? We move on.
I mentioned the previous ownership for a reason. Signing Paxton and expecting him to take the ball every fifth day and give you 200 innings would be a mistake. It’s also the type of move we watched take place every season under the old guard. “Hey, he’s injury prone so we can get him cheap. Say a prayer.”
Giving him a one year deal when we have legitimate depth behind him? Now, that’s an idea. That removes a lot of risk out of the equation. And if he can stay healthy? How sweet would that be? With Syndergaard waiting in the wings?
Listen. You don’t need the stats. FIP, whiff rate, exit velocity, etc. Either, he is going to be healthy or he isn’t. And when he’s healthy, he’s great.
The Mets are now in a position to take this type of high-upside gamble.
Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images