The New York Mets need to examine all starting pitcher options in case they are unable to land Trevor Bauer. With a glaring hole in the middle of their rotation, the team needs to do their due diligence on every pitcher on the market.
The Mets were wise to sign James McCann last week to be their starting catcher. While many fans may not be happy with the McCann signing, there is reason to believe that this helps the team in the long run. Mostly because the McCann signing gives the Mets flexibility to go after several starting pitcher options. If the Mets are unable to land Trevor Bauer this winter, there are still many other options outside of him.
Option One: Masahiro Tanaka
The first starting pitcher option outside of Bauer is Masahiro Tanaka. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Yankees, Tanaka is definitely a front end starter who could help the Mets rotation. Tanaka came over to the MLB in 2014 from Japan at the age of 25. His career started spectacularly, with Tanaka going 13-5 with a 2.77 earned run average in his rookie year.
Aside from down years in 2017 and 2019, Tanaka has been a reliable starter for the Yankees. He has a career W-L record of 78-46 and an ERA of 3.74. Not only are those pretty solid numbers, but he did it in New York. Tanaka proved that he can win and pitch well in New York. His playoff numbers before 2020 were very good, as well. Tanaka’s contract would cost less than Bauer, as well, making him a good option if the Mets signed George Springer.
Option 2: Jake Odorizzi
Another option for the Mets would be Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi has been just above average throughout his time in the Major Leagues. Odorizzi was pretty good with the Rays, posting a 3.82 ERA in just under 700 innings. In 2020, Odorizzi had a down year, but that could likely be attributed to the shortened season. In 2019, the last full season, Odorizzi had the best year of his career thus far. He went 15-7 with the Minnesota Twins and had a 3.51 ERA. Odorizzi was an American League All-Star in 2019 as well. He started 30 games and was a very effective innings eater for Minnesota. Gibson would fit perfectly in the 3rd or 4th starting pitcher role as the Mets get Noah Syndergaard back around the All-Star Break.
A Couple Of Unlikely Options
Other starting pitcher options for the Mets include Corey Kluber, James Paxton, and Jake Arrieta. The oldest of them, Jake Arrieta, had a late revamp to his career a few years ago. After being a below-average starting pitcher, Arrieta turned it up in 2014, finishing 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA. Arrieta found a new gear in 2015, going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA and winning the National League Cy Young Award. He kept it up in 2016 going 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA en route to a World Series title. Arrieta’s last three years in Philadelphia have shown a solid amount of decline, however, there is a big possibility that Arrieta can return to form with the right coaching. The only left-hander on the list, Paxton, is probably the least likely of the options.
The Mets already have two left-handers who are viable rotation options, however, Paxton is a solid player to gamble on. Before the shortened 2020 season, Paxton never had an earned run average over four. His career ERA is at 3.58 and has only pitched in the American League. Due to his recent down year, Paxton may be able to sign a team-friendly deal. In 2019, Paxton went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA pitching in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Paxton previously played in Seattle where his ERA was under 3.50 in 582.1 innings spanning across six seasons. When healthy, Paxton can be a premier starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. If the Mets were to move one of Steven Matz or David Peterson to the bullpen, James Paxton would be a good reason why.
A Risky Option
The last pitcher on the list is two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. Before getting injured in 2019 and 2020, Kluber was one of the top pitchers in the Majors. He was coming off of six straight seasons with an ERA under 3.50, including three seasons with an ERA under three. Kluber won Cy Youngs in 2014 and 2017 where he had ERAs under 2.50. In 2018, Kluber had a 20 win season. In 2019, however, Kluber got hurt and only started seven games all season. Kluber signed a one year deal with the Texas Rangers before the shortened 2020 season and only ended up pitching in one inning. Kluber, if he gets healthy, is possibly the best option outside of Tanaka, Bauer, and Odorizzi. He may be almost 35, but he could still have some gas in the tank.
The ideal situation would be for the Mets to sign Bauer, another starter, and Springer. While the stars may align that way, it’s not 100% guaranteed, so backup plans will always be necessary. If the Mets sign any two starting pitchers on this list, I think it would make any fan happy. It would prove that the Mets are in it to contend this year. The rotation’s current core of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Peterson, and Syndergaard (in June or July) is a good start. Adding an arm or two and then shifting one to the bullpen gives the Mets good rotational depth, something they lacked in 2020. Something Sandy Alderson said in his press conference on Monday was that the Mets were looking to lengthen their rotation and have depth. This is definitely something to watch for as signings continue through February and March.