The Mets are looking in all sorts of directions this offseason, and the number of possible Mets free agent targets is plentiful. A big area to be addressed is that of the starting pitching rotation.
After Steve Cohen purchased the team in September, many fans expected an increase in the team’s payroll that would allow the Mets to compete for top prospects in free agency. But a glaring need in the roster for next season is in starting pitching. Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello were both on one-year deals for the 2020 season, and they both severely underperformed below their career statistics for earned run average.
Possible Mets Free Agent Targets and the Projected Rotation for 2021
For next season, the Mets will most likely feature Noah Syndergaard, Jacob Degrom, David Peterson, and Seth Lugo for their rotation. Steven Matz recorded a 9.68 ERA in the 2020 season, so he will need to work from the bullpen until he is trusted to return to his position as a starter. Until then, Steve Cohen needs to be willing to open his wallet to sign that impact pitcher that can pair with Jacob Degrom to lead this team to a playoff slot in 2021. There are some options that the Mets can use to adjust their rotation in 2021 that will be explored in this article.
Option 1: Sign Trevor Bauer
Among the possible Mets free agents targets is likely the top pitcher available in free agency this year, Trevor Bauer has Cy Young Potential for 2021. In 2020, he had a 1.73 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP. He also struck out one hundred batters in seventy-three inches pitched, which is a great ratio for a pitcher. Bauer can effectively throw his curveball, cutter, slider, sinker, and 4-seamer to keep hitters guessing at the plate. While his fastball is only around 93 MPH on average, he makes up for it by mixing his pitch arsenal depending on the hitter. Bauer would be a huge acquisition for the Mets, but it would probably take around twenty million dollars to sign him for next season.
Option 2: Resign Marcus Stroman
Another option for the possible Mets free agent targets, New York could re-sign Marcus Stroman. The pros of this decision would be that Stroman has played for the organization before, even if it was just a short stint in 2019. His career stats are a 3.76 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP. He is a ground ball pitcher that does not correspond with the defensive abilities of the Mets infield, but he is a veteran pitcher that could add some consistency to the rotation in 2021. Stroman mostly relies on his sinker at 92.5 MPH, his slider at 85.7 MPH, and his cutter at 91 MPH. Stroman would be a cheaper option than Bauer, but it is unclear whether he can be effective next season.
Option 3: Sign Robbie Ray
Although a risky signing due to his recent struggles, Robbie Ray has proven that he can be an effective pitcher. In 2017, Ray had a 2.89 ERA with 218 strikeouts and a 15-5 record. In contrast, Ray’s 2020 season was disastrous with a 6.62 ERA and a 1.9 WHIP. Since Ray would probably sign a 2 yr/$17,000,000 contract, he could be a bargain signing with both a high ceiling and a low floor. He mostly relies on a 93.9 MPH 4-seamer with an 86.5 MPH slider and an 83.5 MPH curveball. Robbie Ray has a lot of experience as an MLB pitcher and he will be twenty-nine years old during the 2021 MLB season.
Big Picture Analysis for the Mets
While there are other options for possible Mets free-agent targets such as Masahiro Tanaka, Jose Quintana, and Taijuan Walker, the Mets need to focus on increasing their payroll to sign a respectable pitcher to complement their rotation for 2021. The Mets are legitimate playoff contenders in 2021, especially if they are able to find some free agents that will enhance their existing roster. The bottom line is that Steve Cohen needs to make moves this offseason, and the Mets need to end their streak of stingy free agency campaigns.
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