Two years ago, even the most pessimistic Mets fan wouldn’t have thought the starting rotation would be an area of need come 2018. but here we are.
Last season’s depletion of the Mets’ rotation made perfectly clear that leaving Bartolo Colon‘s spot unfilled was a mistake in hindsight. The absence of a reliable, innings-eating veteran on the roster left the rotation vulnerable — giving inexperienced pitchers like Chris Flexen and struggling starters like Rafael Montero extended time in the rotation.
As the Mets ultimately won’t be hunting for Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta, they’ll need to find a Colon-type starter to plug that void in 2018. Someone who can be effective and eat innings, and do so at a low price. While Colon is a free agent, his 6.48 ERA last season suggests that Father Time may have finally caught up to him.
However, another reunion could make sense for the Mets: R.A. Dickey is available. It will be interesting to see if they have any interest in bringing back the 2012 Cy Young Award winner, who seems to fit the bill for someone the Mets could use.
While he hasn’t been nearly as dominant since leaving the Mets, he’s been a league-average pitcher for the Blue Jays and Braves since 2013, going 59-62 with a 4.09 ERA, and a 100 ERA+. He’s thrown at least 190 innings in four of the last five seasons, and has made at least 29 starts in all of them. He’s no star, but he’s a capable No. 4 or No. 5 starter for sure — and someone without an extensive recent injury history.
And going on 43, the knuckleballer definitely won’t be getting any more than a one-year deal. He made $7.5 million last season; the Braves declined his $8 million option for 2018. So he could cost even less than that. Signing Dickey could give the Mets affordable rotation help while preserving payroll flexibility to improve other areas of the team as well.
If the Mets could get the pitcher Dickey has been over the last five seasons — a decent pitcher who can eat innings — it would immediately stabilize the Mets’ rotation. Outside of Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, the final three spots of next year’s rotation are largely unsettled. Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are too injury prone to be relied on long-term, and nobody knows what the heck to do about Matt Harvey. Dickey could shore up this volatile aspect of the team.
Dickey has yet to decide whether he will pitch in 2018. But if he does, the Mets should definitely make a push for his services. He is far from an ideal acquisition, but the Mets simply don’t have the payroll flexibility to make a big splash like Darvish or Arrieta. As far as budget picks go, you can do a lot worse than Dickey.