The Mets will have a gaping hole in their starting rotation if Zack Wheeler leaves via free agency, but is that hole something they could actually fill from within?
Speaking on Monday at Citi Field after introducing Carlos Beltran as the 22nd manager in franchise history, GM Brodie Van Wagenen talked up the ability of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman as potential rotation answers.
"We've got some great players in Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman that may be considerations in the rotation," Van Wagenen told SNY's Steve Gelbs.
Lugo, 29, didn't start any games in 2019 as he became the Mets' most important reliever. He started five games in 2018 while making 49 relief appearances. In 2017, he made 18 starts and one relief appearance, but the results weren't there as he posted a 4.71 ERA.
Aside from the fact that putting Lugo in the starting rotation would rob the Mets of their best reliever from 2019 is the fact that he has been pitching through a partially torn UCL in his right elbow. However, Lugo worked out of the rotation the majority of 2017 without incident after being diagnosed with that partial tear in April of that season.
As far as the 26-year-old Gsellman goes, he has not started a game since 2017 -- when he made 22 starts and three relief appearances while posting a 5.19 ERA.
With Wheeler potentially leaving via free agency, the Mets as presently constituted will enter the 2020 season with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz in their starting rotation.
As far as an answer from the minor leagues, that could potentially come in the form of left-handed prospect David Peterson. But Peterson will almost certainly open the 2020 season in Triple-A Syracuse and can't be relied on to make any kind of impact this coming season.
The above means that if the Mets don't turn to Lugo or Gsellman, they'll have to go the free agency or trade route to find their No. 5 starter.
The top two starting pitchers on the free agent market are Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, followed by Wheeler. After that crop is a lower tier of free agents that includes Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, and Jake Odorizzi.