Meet The Mets? Free Agent Pitchers Would Rather Not

An article by posted on January 27, 2010

So far this offseason, the Mets have failed to lure a free agent pitcher to Flushing.  What was supposedly their top priority (signing a starting pitcher), has turned into an endless series of questions regarding why the Mets can’t get any pitchers to sign with them.  In a span of 24 hours, the Mets and their fans have once again been subjected to watching two more free agent pitchers who were supposedly on the Mets’ radar sign with other teams.

Ben Sheets parlayed his year off from baseball into a one-year, $10 million contract with Oakland and Jon Garland will now peddle his wares in San Diego after signing a one-year deal with the Padres.

I was looking at some of the free agent pitchers (Sheets and Garland included) who were supposedly being considered by the Mets to be a part of their 2010 roster and noticed something interesting.  Tell me if you notice any similarities between these pitchers:

  • Doug Davis: signs with Milwaukee for one year, $5.25 million.
  • Jon Garland: signs with San Diego for one year, $4.7 million.
  • Jason Marquis: signs with Washington for two years, $15 million.
  • Ben Sheets: signs with Oakland for one year, $10 million.
  • Randy Wolf: signs with Milwaukee for three years, $29.75 million.

All of them signed relatively short deals.  All of them signed for less than the average annual value of Oliver Perez’s contract.  However, what I noticed the most is that all of them signed with teams that finished with losing records in 2009.

Davis and Wolf signed with the Brewers, who at 80-82, finished in third place in the NL Central, 11 games behind the first place Cardinals.  Similarly, Garland chose to sign with the fourth-place Padres, who finished 20 games out of first and Sheets signed with the last-place Athletics, who finished 22 games behind the Angels in the AL West.  To make matters worse, Marquis signed with the Nationals, who finished with the worst record in baseball.

Most free agents prefer to sign contracts that promise them big money, long-term security or the chance to play for a contender.  None of the pitchers listed above signed for anything near the amount of money given to this year’s top free agent pitcher, John Lackey.  Not only that, the teams who signed them were able to do so without investing too many years in them.

Why did those pitchers prefer to sign short-term deals with losing teams for reasonable dollars?  Isn’t Citi Field known as a pitcher’s park?  Why wouldn’t they want to come here where they can pitch in a spacious ballpark and put up good numbers so they can earn a fatter contract the next time they become free agents?

I guess word has gotten around that the Mets are no longer one of those teams that players would jump at the opportunity to play for.  They’d rather play for other second-division teams than the one currently playing in Flushing.  It’s a sad indication that this team is not going in the right direction.  They’re not doing enough to put a team on the field that can compete with the Phillies, Marlins and Braves.  Heck, even the Nationals have been making noise in the free agent market.

When the Mets signed Jason Bay last month, we thought it would be the beginning of many press conferences announcing new additions to the team that would help put them back into contention.  So far, that signing just looks like a piece of bubble gum placed over a leak in the Hoover Dam.  It served to hold things up temporarily, but as these other free agents are finding new addresses that do not begin with the letters N and Y, the dam is going to break and the fans are going to let their displeasure flood Citi Field.  Of course, that’s assuming the fans will even go to Citi Field…

About the Author ()

Ed Leyro was hatched in the Bronx, but spent most of his youth in Queens at Shea Stadium. Apparently, all that time spent at Mets games paid off as Ed met his wife (The Coop) for the first time at Citi Field during its inaugural season. Guess the 2009 season was good for something after all. In addition to his work at Mets Merized Online, Ed also owns, operates and is head janitor at Studious Metsimus, where he shares blogging duties with Joey Beartran. For those not in the know, Joey is a teddy bear dressed in a Mets hoodie. Clearly, Studious Metsimus is not your typical Mets blog.

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