The Mets world is reeling after the news that Bartolo Colon signed with the Atlanta Braves. This was unexpected, as Colon had passed up on better offers last season to return to the Mets.
Now with the team having most of its rotation coming off of injuries, they are going to probably need to acquire a veteran starter on the cheap who can fill in Colon’s void and be a stop-gap in case of injuries to their core pitchers. The Mets probably won’t go for a higher-end option like a Rich Hill or a Jeremy Hellickson (who are actually considered high end in this awful market), so these are guys they could presumably get on no more than a two-year deal.
Rather than gambling on a reclamation project like Brett Anderson or C.J. Wilson, the Mets will probably want someone who resembles Colon: of a sure thing– at least in respect to injuries– due to pretty much their entire rotation being hurt. There aren’t a whole lot of good options out there, but here are seven veteran pitchers who the Mets could presumably consider to replace Colon:
Andrew Cashner – It’s hard to believe that the Padres traded Anthony Rizzo away for this guy. He’s coming off a 5.25 ERA this year, so that means a big free agent payout may not come. But he’s still just 30, can touch the mid-90s with his fastball and lives in a world where Jeff Samardzija can allow the most home runs in the AL and get a $90 million contract the following winter. So anything is possible here.
If Cashner ends up going the Nelson Cruz route and gambles on a one-year “prove it” deal, this is someone who could really help the Mets. He’s had success in the major leagues and possesses the pure “stuff” to succeed in the majors. But in a weak free agent pitching market, another team could overspend for him. And it’s safe to say that that team won’t be the Mets.
Edinson Volquez – The 34-year-old Volquez is coming off of a year in which he had a 5.37 ERA, but represents very little injury liability, something the Mets really need. He has made at least 30 starts in four straight seasons and posted a 3.30 ERA from 2014-15. This is someone who, if he’s in the market for no more than a two-year deal, the Mets should strongly consider.
Jorge De La Rosa – De La Rosa is 36 years old and has a 4.64 career ERA, which isn’t terrible for a guy who has pitched in Coors Field a ton. He could presumably pitch better in a more favorable pitching environment, like Citi Field. The former Rockie also made at least 24 starts in each of the last four seasons, making him a reliable guy.
Mat Latos – Latos posted a 3.25 ERA from 2010-2014, making him one of the NL’s better starting pitchers in that time frame. Since 2015 though, he’s been with five different teams, and posted a 4.93 ERA. He probably won’t cost anything more than a minor league deal , and he’s still only 28 years old– which is kind of unbelievable considering he’s already pitched for seven teams. This could be a last resort if the Mets can’t afford anyone else.
Jered Weaver – Weaver, 34, was 131-69 with a 3.28 ERA from 2006-2014. Two years ago, he lead the AL in wins. But he has since fallen on hard times. his fastball barely reached over 80 miles per hour at some points last year as his ERA ballooned to 5.06. He has made at least 24 starts, however, in each of the last ten seasons. So Weaver represents a stop-gap option that could benefit from a move to the NL.
Ryan Vogelsong – He is a solid back-of-the-rotation pitcher who mostly stays off of the disabled list. He has a 4.81 lifetime ERA, so he’s not a star and most likely won’t get more than a one-year deal. But again, not too many solid pitchers to chose from here. The 39-year old has average 24 starts over his past
Dillon Gee – He was an ideal No. 5 starter for most of his Mets career; going 40-34 with a 3.91 ERA from 2010-2014. He then proceeded to spend most of 2015 in the minors, and held a 4.68 ERA this year with the Royals. The 30-year pitched mostly out of the bullpen this year, but if the Mets really need a starting pitcher a reunion makes sense on a minor-league deal.