Free Agent Targets: Starting Pitchers
The MLBPA compiled a full list of players who filed for free agency this offseason. Out of those, there are several possibilities that stood out to me as players I would consider signing if I were the GM of the Mets (assuming I had a moderate amount of money to spend). Mind you, I’m not saying the Mets should sign ALL of these players – that would be impossible. But this would be the pool of players from which I would choose.
We’ll break them down by position. In this post, I’ll take a look at…
The Mets would like a veteran starting pitcher to anchor a young, Matt Harvey–less rotation in 2014. Not really an ace, just someone to eat innings while Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, and Noah Syndergaard grow into the top-tier starters the team thinks they can be.
Tim Hudson, 38, RHP – Hudson should be fully recovered from his ankle injury (inflicted accidentally by Eric Young) by Opening Day. He had a 3.97 ERA and 1.19 WHIP before going down. He’s coming off a 4-year, $36 million deal, and should be affordable.
Paul Maholm, 31, LHP – Aside from Jon Niese, the Mets are thin on left-handed starting pitchers at the major league level, and the high minors. Maholm would give them a decent lefty arm for 150 innings or so. He wasn’t great against right-handed batters, but he held lefties to a .226/.262/.297 slash line. His last contract was 2 years, $11.25 million.
Scott Feldman, 30, LHP – Feldman is a more intriguing lefty. Once a prospect for the Texas Rangers, he started 2013 with the Cubs, and finished with the Orioles. According to MLBTR, the O’s are keen on keeping Feldman, and are looking at a 2-year, $17 million contract. If he falls through the cracks, however, he and his 2013 ERA of 3.86 and WHIP of 1.18 would be welcome in the Mets rotation.
Scott Kazmir, 29, LHP – Perhaps a return home for the prodigal son is in order? After several years of injury and ineffectiveness, Kazmir rebounded to post a 4.04 ERA, 1.32 ERA, and a 9.2 SO/9 ratio with the Cleveland Indians. Given his injury history, however, he’s still a question mark.
Aaron Harang, 35, RHP – Harang threw his final 23 innings of 2013 with the Mets, and had a 3.52 ERA and a 10.2 SO/9 ratio. However, he also walked an average of 4.7 batters per 9 innings. He looked sharp enough to be considered for a return. His last contract was 2-years, $12 million, but he may be available for less than that.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, 33, RHP – Matsuzaka spent his last 38.2 innings of 2013 with the Mets. Early on, he walked a lot of batters and took forever to deliver the ball to home plate, both hallmarks of Dice-K’s career, but in his last 4 starts, he went 26.1 innings, won 3 games, and had a 1.37 ERA. He held opposing hitters to a .461 OPS. He’s still a gamble, but he might be worth another look if they can sign him on the cheap.
Dan Haren, 33, RHP – Haren had a bad year in 2013. He had a 4.67 ERA and 4.09 FIP. However, he still struck out 8 batters per 9 innings, and had a 1.23 WHIP. His fastball velocity is down from the level it was in his halcyon days, but good pitchers figure out how to pitch without their best stuff. He’s coming off a 1-year, $13 million contract. If he asks for anywhere near that, the Mets should pass.
The Mets would be wise not to spend a large percentage of whatever offseason budget they have on starting pitchers. They have some organizational depth (as long as they don’t trade any of it), even if it’s somewhat inexperienced. They have more glaring holes to fill at other positions.
Coming up next: Free agent relief pitchers.