The Mets are beginning to target second-tier, free agent starting pitchers, such as Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, and Jason Vargas, SNY contributor and former GM Jim Duquette said Thursday on Mets Hot Stove.
"I'm told that they're starting to target an innings-eater, just because of the way the market has come back," Duquette said.
In early-September, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters he will look to add a reliable, veteran, starting pitcher to his rotation for next season...
"I think if we were able to find a Bartolo Colon-type, who fits in the three-four spot and semi-guarantees 180-200 innings, that would probably be something that would stabilize our rotation," he explained. "So, yes, I think it's something we'll look at."
Alderson backed off these comments in December and January, downplaying his need to add to the rotation. Earlier this week during a public event at Citi Field, he inched back to his previous position, saying he was open to considering adding a starting pitcher or reliever. However, he made it sound like he would prefer to give a minor-league contract instead of a guaranteed deal. Duquette's information would suggest otherwise...
I hope Duquette's information is accurate, because I've been repeatedly advocating for Alderson to pass on acquiring an infielder and instead use his remaining $10-15 million to sign a stable, experienced, bonafide No. 3 starting pitcher. The fact is, injuries happen. And, while the Mets have taken action in management to help reduce the damage, injuries will always be unavoidable.
At the same time, despite the awesomeness of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, no one knows what to expect this season from Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. There is reason to believe all seven men will pitch to their potential, but it's also reasonable to think most of them will struggle and again force Alderson to spend six months scrambling to fill in his rotation.
Or, the Mets could simply sign Cobb or Lynn now and hit 2018 with three reliable arms in the rotation.
In deGrom, Syndergaard, and Cobb or Lynn, the Mets would increase their chance to win each night, as well as decrease their chance of spending the entire summer stressed out about the rotation.
According to reports and current predictions on MLB Trade Rumors, Cobb and Lynn are waiting for Yu Darvish to ink a deal before they choose a new team.
I've heard as many as six-to-eight teams could move to sign Cobb or Lynn, including the Twins, Brewers, Orioles and Rangers and other teams likely to lose out on Darvish and free-agent Jake Arietta.
In the end, though I'm sure the Alderson is expecting a discount due to the market crash, I still think demand will force Cobb and Lynn to get a multi-year deal and at least $14-15 million per season.
This is why I anticipate Alderson more seriously pursue Vargas, who at this point is likely to get a one- or two-year deal at around $10 million per season.
I'd rather Cobb or Lynn. However, Vargas is a bulldog and is widely considered a 'winner.' He has worked the last three seasons in Kansas City with new Mets pitching Dave Eiland, who should have as good of a sense of anyone as to Jason's health and ability to make 30 starts.
The goal isn't necessarily to acquire an ace. Technically, the Mets have two aces already. Instead, they need a trustworthy arm that can prop up the middle of the rotation and reduce the need to rely on Harvey, Matz and Wheeler. Cobb or Lynn would be best. But, if Eiland is confident in Vargas, I'm fine with Alderson acquiring him, especially if it allows money left over to be used for another reliever.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...