New York Mets: Best Starting Pitching Options On The Free Agent Market

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Mets still have a big need to fill in their starting rotation. Trevor Bauer immediately sticks out as the top option still on the market, but what does plan B look like for the Mets? Or who else do they bring along if they sign Bauer? Either way, there is still plenty of talent for Jared Porter to swoop up.

1. Trevor Bauer 

It is no surprise that Trevor Bauer is at the top of the list after his magical Cy Young award-winning season. Bauer led the league in ERA (1.70), shutouts (2), and had 100 strikeouts. The number of years for Bauer’s deal fluctuates from one all the way through five, and he will definitely be expensive. The biggest question concerning his on-field performance is whether his spin rate and dominance are sustainable pitching in a full season.

The other huge question comes with Bauer’s off the field personality. Bauer is active on social media, YouTube, and loves making a big statement. Whether you agree or disagree with what he says and does, overlooked news in Ohio is on the back pages in New York. If the on-field performance is successful, Bauer will thrive in the league’s biggest market. Should he struggle, the media and the fans will do everything in their power to get under his skin.

2. Jake Odorizzi

Do not write off Jake Odorizzi as a bad option in the Mets rotation. His career ERA (3.88) was better than Bauer’s (4.04) before the 2020 season started. Unfortunately, an injury-plagued season caused him to finish with a 6.59 ERA in four starts. Odorizzi was an All-Star in 2019 and is one year older than Bauer.

Odorizzi is a significantly cheaper option for the Mets and will likely sign for 2-3 years. He averaged 30 starts a year from 2014-2019 with the production of a good rotation option. Odorizzi is not an ace, but he would fit in as a good third starter behind Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.

3. Masahiro Tanaka

Much like Odorizzi, Masahiro Tanaka has been one of the most consistent starters in baseball since his 2020 debut. Tanaka has a 3.74 career ERA, 3.33 ERA in the postseason, and two All-Star appearances on his resume. The biggest concern is his partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow. Like Seth Lugo, Tanaka has opted to pitch through it instead of undergoing Tommy John Surgery.

Tanaka would alleviate the heavy stress load at the back of the Mets rotation. He was a front line starter for most of his New York Yankees tenure. Tanaka could remain part of a six-man rotation when Noah Syndergaard returns; if the Mets sign Odorizzi with him. He could also fill the role starters like Julio Urias, and Nathan Eovaldi did in the bullpen during the postseason.

4. Alex Wood

Alex Wood falls into the category of a lower tier of a starter who is a crapshoot. These types of pitchers have past big league success but struggled over the last season or two. Wood is a prime example of that a “roll of the dice” move. Wood will be 30 on opening day and has a 3.45 career ERA in 138 career starts. Injuries and lack of a rotation spot with the Los Angeles Dodgers hurt his last two seasons. Before 2019, Wood had a 3.29 ERA, putting him as a reliable starting pitcher.

Wood has plenty of familiarity with pitching in big games after spending most of his career with the Braves and Dodgers. He would be a good option to sign along with Trevor Bauer to give the Mets five capable starters. Wood also has experience in the bullpen, which translates well to the postseason.

5. Jose Quintana

Jose Quintana is another pitcher who fell on hard times over the last two seasons but still is a decent arm. A thumb injury and lat strain limited him to 10 innings in 2020 after being known for durability throughout his career. After making 25 starts in his 2012 rookie season, Quintana rattled off seven consecutive 31+ start seasons.

Quintana has a 3.73 career ERA and is the type of pitcher who can maintain success as he gets older. He is a contact pitcher, known for his ability to generate soft contact. Quintana is a quality option to supplement a strong rotation and would benefit from working under pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.

Are the New York Yankees looking to add a veteran starter?

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Brian Cashman

If you’ve been following the New York Yankees over the past decade, you’ve heard the same issue discussed over and over. That issue is the lack of starting pitching. Lack of starting pitching and consistent hitting have been the Yankees downfall.

The bombers attempted to address the starting pitching issue last offseason. The Yankees went out and signed the best pitcher on the market in Gerrit Cole. Overall, Cole had a very good first year in pinstripes. He pitched very well in his three postseason starts.

However, the Yankees still fell short and didn’t make it to the World Series. The World Series drought for the Yankees continued in 2020. To be fair to the Yankees, their rotation took some injury hits this year that really hindered the club.

Luis Severino (injury) and Domingo German (suspension) missed the entire season. James Paxton also missed a majority of the season due to injuries. The Yankees are planning on having German back next year and Severino to return at some point.

However, there are still a ton of question marks about the rotation moving forward. Masahiro Tanaka is a free agent and there is no guarantee that the Yankees retain his services. Jordan Montgomery will get a starting rotation spot, but after that, there’s question marks.

Right now if things go as planned, the Yankees have three rotation spots confirmed: Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and Domingo German. Severino will take a spot when he’s healthy, but there’s no word on when that’ll be.

The Yankees options?

In a perfect world, the Yankees would make another sexy splash and sign Trevor Bauer. Imagine a rotation led by Cole and Bauer, however, we know that the bombers are looking to cut payroll instead of adding this offseason.

The Yankees are focused on bringing back DJ LeMahieu and that is not going to come cheap. Once they resign LeMahieu, they will look at how to improve the club. I could see them adding a guy like Archie Bradley for the bullpen.

For the starting rotation, they are not going to be shopping near the top. Instead, I think the Yankees are going to be in the bargain bin hoping for a diamond in the rough. They will also be looking to add a veteran presence in the rotation.

Two names that would make a lot of sense are Jose Quintana and Corey Kluber. The Yankees have liked Quintana for a long time and originally attempted to acquire him from the White Sox before they traded him to the Cubs.

Quintana really struggled with the Cubs in comparison to his years with the White Sox. However, the Yankees might see him as a guy who can be stable in the rotation. Kluber is a wild card to me.

The former Cy Young winner is just a couple of years removed from being one of baseball’s best. However, injuries have seen him pitch only 36.2 innings in two seasons. If the Yankees believe they can recapture some of his best stuff, I can see them bringing him in.

Either way, I expect the Yankees to add a starter this offseason not named Masahiro Tanaka. Even if they bring Tanaka back, I think Cashman will try to add another rotation option on the cheap end. I do not see them trying to go fully young with Garcia and Schmidt.