Who would have ever thought pitching would be one of the Mets’ biggest needs?
After the nightmare of this season, the Mets will likely be in the market for a starting pitcher. And knowing the Mets, they won’t be breaking the bank on their rotation.
Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish highlight this year’s free-agent class, but the Mets probably aren’t going to go there. They’re probably going to gravitate toward the low end of the market. With that said, here are 12 low-cost starters who could make sense for the Mets:
C.C. Sabathia – The longtime Yankee has pitched very well over the last two seasons, posting a 3.81 ERA (and 116 ERA+) since the start of 2016. At 37, he probably won’t demand more than a two-year deal at most. He might cost the frugal Mets more than they want to spend, but he makes sense as a Bartolo Colon-type veteran signing.
Jeremy Hellickson – After being traded to Baltimore this summer, Hellickson was absolutely awful. The journeyman went 2-6 with a Harvey-esque 6.97 ERA in 10 starts as an Oriole. He had a 4.73 mark with the Phillies. This represented a major drop off from Hellickson’s 3.71-ERA campaign in 2016, so could tamp down some of his market value. And we all know the Mets like tamped-down market values.
John Lackey – Lackey will be 39 next season. He went 12-12 with a 4.59 ERA this year, but was dominant as recently as 2015 when he finished ninth in Cy Young voting. The veteran reportedly has an awful clubhouse reputation, but he’s still a serviceable starter and one that doesn’t require a long-term commitment.
Matt Garza – Garza is 18-31 with a 5.10 ERA and 81 ERA+ since 2015. He’ll likely be a minor-league deal candidate this offseason.
Hector Santiago – After an All-Star 2015 season, Santiago has struggled mightily. He has a 4.96 ERA over the last two years. Sandy Alderson has taken chances on bounce-back year candidates before (Marlon Byrd, Chris Young) and so he seems to be a fit in this respect.
Jason Vargas – The former Met went 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA and 108 ERA+, the best season of his 12-year career. This may mean a more expensive contract for Vargas, but injury concerns (he made just 12 starts from 2015-2016) could put him in the Mets’ price range.
Wade Miley – The former Diamondback has never lived up to the potential of his All-Star rookie season in 2012. His ERA has gone up every year since then, peaking at 5.61 this year. He is an innings eater though, having thrown at least 150 innings every year since 2012, and his status as a lower-end option could make him appealing for the Mets
Scott Feldman – The veteran starter is injury prone, but has posted a 4.00 ERA and 100 ERA+ since 2013. Not bad for a one-year deal candidate.
Doug Fister – The Mets opted not to sign Fister despite his prolonged free agency this season. He hasn’t been great for the Red Sox this year, but a 94 ERA+ indicates he is just slightly below average.
R.A. Dickey – Another old friend of the Mets, Dickey has not made a decision about his future. He went 10-10 with a 4.26 ERA this season, and has basically been a league-average pitcher since winning the Cy Young in 2012. A Mets-Dickey reunion makes a ton of sense if Dickey opts to play one more season.
Clay Buchholz – He hasn’t pitched a full season since 2014, and made just two starts this year. But he did post a 3.26 ERA as recently as 2015, so he has a bigger upside than most of the cheap pitchers available this year.
Bartolo Colon – “Big Sexy’s” 6.48 ERA this year indicates he might be done. But he did love playing for the Mets, and he would definitely come cheap if he wanted to play one more season for which he would be 45.