Latest On Mets’ Search For Starting Pitching

3:10PM: While the Mets are looking at several free agent pitchers, the New York Post’s Mike Puma tweets that the club is also actively pursuing trade possibilities.

11:30AM: After the Mets saw Jacob deGrom leave for Texas and sign a five-year, $185MM deal with the Rangers, it seems certain they’ll move quickly to find other ways to upgrade their rotation. As Andy Martino of SNY reports, the next best pitcher available, Justin Verlander is now “front and center” for the team, and the team is “determined to land” either Verlander or Carlos Rodon.

The loss of deGrom is surely a tough pill to swallow for the Mets, but after seeing the contract he received from Texas, the opportunity to bring in Verlander on a shorter deal may well appeal to owner Steve Cohen and co. While Verlander is older, and will play the 2023 season at 40, he is coming off a dominant Cy Young-winning season which saw him hurl 175 innings of 1.75 ERA ball, striking out 220 batters in the process.

A potential signing of Verlander would likely come at a higher annual salary than the $37MM deGrom received, but only over a two or three year deal, and it does seem like that is their preferred option for older pitchers. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported, their offer to deGrom was around three-years, $120MM. Pivoting to Verlander on a shorter term deal would give them a bit more payroll flexibility over the long term while maintaining the 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation with Max Scherzer that the Mets covet.

While the Mets have shown their financial muscle in recent years, there are other teams interested in Verlander (such as the Yankees and Dodgers) so it’s no guarantee that they land him. In that case, it seems their next option would be Rodon. The left-hander is coming off a strong platform year in San Francisco, where he tossed 178 innings of 2.88 ERA ball with 237 strikeouts.

Rodon is a lot younger than Verlander (he turns 30 in a week) so would likely be looking at a longer term contract. MLBTR predicted he’d land a five-year, $140MM contract, which would give him an AAV of $28MM. While it seems Rodon is their second choice to Verlander, they are very much in on him and met with him on Zoom earlier this week.

While a frontline starter to pair with Scherzer looks to be the top priority for the Mets, Will Sammon of The Athletic adds that they’re looking to also add a starter from the mid-tier of options as well. Martino cites Andrew Heaney, Taijuan Walker, Kyle Gibson, Ross Stripling and Jose Quintana as the main options for the team in that category. Jon Heyman of the New York Post adds that they’ve been talking with Jameson Taillon as well.

Zach Eflin’s three-year, $40MM deal with the Rays came in one year and $18MM higher than MLBTR’s prediction, and does suggest that the market for mid-tier starting pitching could be quite lucrative this year.

The Mets currently have Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson, Tylor Megill and Elieser Hernandez penciled into the rotation. The addition of either Rodon or Verlander plus a solid, mid-tier option would give them a formidable rotation, and allow them to shift two of Megill, Peterson and Hernandez into depth/long-relief roles.

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