With the 2021 MLB trade deadline just over a month away, the Mets starting pitching depth is looking thinner than ever. So far this season, they have been able to count on the three-headed monster of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Taijuan Walker, plus shaky starts from David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi. The latter was never truly meant to be in the rotation, just a fill-in until Carlos Carrasco or Noah Syndergaard return from injury. However, those two are just as far away from returning as they were in April. On top of this, Jordan Yamamoto hit the IL after one start, and Jacob deGrom has had as many injury scares this year as earned runs allowed (4).
The current lack of depth will certainly be on display over the next week, as the Mets will play two doubleheaders, following Saturday’s twin bill against the Nationals. With the returns of Carrasco and Syndergaard looking more questionable by the day, it would be prudent for the Mets front office to make a move or two to keep the team on track through the summer. Let’s take a look at the Mets options, varying from easy pick-ups, to blockbuster deals.
2021 MLB Trade Deadline: Tier 1 – Affordable Rentals
Each of these five will be a free agent at season’s end and are likely to be available except in the case of Bundy if the Angels somehow find their way back into the AL West race. None of them are likely to receive a qualifying offer either, meaning the Mets could bring them to New York for a relatively low cost.
If Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is opposed to dealing any significant prospects, the front office could still bring in one of these five to hopefully provide some solid innings at the back end of the rotation. Ureña and Bundy could be had especially cheap, and would more or less serve as depth pieces.
2021 MLB Trade Deadline: Tier 2 – Difference Makers
One level up, this group of pitchers are all under contract beyond 2021, and would likely become fixtures in the Mets rotation. Accordingly, they would come with a greater price tag than a rental pitcher. Not to mention each of these four is in the midst of a solid season. Gibson in particular has a 2.09 ERA and has already accumulated 3.6 bWAR this season.
While a deal for one of these could cost the Mets a well-regarded prospect, it could also add a reliable fourth to the Mets three-headed monster. In addition, both Stroman and Syndergaard will be free agents after this season, so the Mets will need to add a starting pitcher for 2022 anyway. If Alderson is willing to make a splash, acquiring one of these names could be the way to go.
2021 MLB Trade Deadline: Tier 3 – Blockbuster Deals
Scherzer is easily the best pitcher that would conceivably be available at the 2021 trade deadline. He will be a free agent after this season, and has posted a sub-3 ERA in all but two seasons since 2013 while picking up three Cy Young awards. The main question is whether the Nationals will be sellers at the deadline. They are currently four games under 500 and six games back of the Mets in the NL East. The Nationals have not shown any indication that they will be selling just yet, but that hasn’t stopped the rumors surrounding Scherzer.
Adding to this, the Nationals have one of the worst farm systems in MLB, increasing the odds that they may sell for 2021 in order to restock for the future. Being that Scherzer is still one of the best in the league at age 36, the Nationals could ask for a lot in return. The most likely scenario is that the Nats find themselves hovering around 500 in mid-July, and any team who calls about Scherzer will be asked for a haul of prospects. If they decline, Washington can keep Scherzer and make a run at the NL East. If they accept, the Nats can immediately jumpstart their farm system and be in a better position for 2022 and beyond.
What does this mean for the Mets? Scherzer would immediately give the Mets the best rotation in the league and put them in a great position for a run at the World Series. However, it’s far from likely and would probably cost the Mets at least someone like Matt Allan or Brett Baty.
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