Nolasco, Other Pitchers Off the Table
With Matt Harvey out for the year, Jeremy Hefner (remember him?) also out until at least August / September, and the chronically injured Jenrry Mejia hardly a lock to hold down a rotation spot, the Mets would seem to be in the market for a few pitchers — starting pitchers in particular. Picking up a reliever or two is also in the cards, considering that Bobby Parnell may not be ready come Opening Day, and the bullpen in general is less than impressive. Already, though, several arms have been signed by other clubs. Let’s look at who’s off the table, including the most recent righthander plucked from the free agent market.
The Twins have handed Nolasco 4 years, $49M. I don’t think the Mets were ever in on Nolasco, but he would’ve been a nice fit — especially at what seems to be a bargain rate for someone who makes 30 starts a year, hurls 200 innings, and is only 30 years old. He’s essentially the righthanded version of Vargas, below. It sounds like a lot of money, but it isn’t for these type of #4 starters.
Signed with the Dodgers for one year, $10M. Ouch. I didn’t think the Mets would want to go after Haren, but that’s not the point. The point is that Haren — who is clearly past his prime and no more than a five-inning pitcher these days — was given $10M. That’s scary, because that means Aaron Harang is worth at least one year, $7M. And what might Daisuke Matsuzaka fetch in this market? I have to wonder if the Mets can afford any decent MLB starting pitcher, considering what teams are willing to pay for 5th-starter-types.
This is rather old news, but I don’t remember covering it here. Hudson received two years and $23M from the Giants. Considering what was given to Haren, this would seem to be a bargain. Unfortunately, even a bargain is beyond the Mets’ reach.
Vogelsong just agreed to a one-year deal to return to San Francisco. Terms are not yet announced, but it’s believed to be somewhere in the realm of $4M guaranteed, $8M with incentives. Again, not good news for the thrifty Mets.
For most fans, losing Vargas seems inconsequential, since he’s been hurt for most of the time he’s been property of the Mets. I beg to differ, as I think he’s on the verge of finally breaking out.
There are a few things that simply can’t be taught. A 95-MPH fastball, for instance. Heart, for another. Vargas’ stuff is ordinary at best, but he has plenty of heart, and is a tremendous competitor. I’m of the ilk that you can’t underestimate what’s inside a ballplayer — see Dustin Pedroia, David Eckstein, Greg Maddux, Johan Santana. No, I’m not saying Vargas is another Santana — he’s not even close — but his competitiveness will take him further than better-skilled pitchers with weaker stomachs. I think he’ll win a job with Seattle, and do OK for himself. In my mind, he had a better chance of effectively filling the #5 spot in the Mets’ rotation than Jon Niese. Also, it’s too bad he won’t be able to hit in the “other” league.
We can’t live in the past, we must look forward. Ironically, Vargas today is, essentially, Jonathon Niese — a solid, innings-eating lefthander who will almost always keep his team in the game through 6 innings, and fits into the #3 or #4 slot of a pennant-contending club. The cost for that on the open market? Four years, $32M. That’s not a huge amount of money, all things considered, and it’s too bad the Mets couldn’t have brought Vargas back for that — I didn’t hear anyone suggesting they even made an offer. And if his arm didn’t provide enough, the Mets could have always used his bat.
Oh, my, another one of those pieces of the J.J. Putz trade. Smith has been a solid middle reliever since making his Mets/MLB debut in 2007, and he just earned himself a three-year, $15M deal with the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim on the Left Coast Near the Pacific Ocean.
Oh jeez, how many former Mets pitchers are we going to see sign elsewhere this winter? Oakland gave Humber a minor-league contract and an invite to spring training. He wasn’t very good in 2013 nor 2012, but he was OK in 2011. I doubt the Mets had interest in bringing him back, though it wouldn’t have been the worst idea — it doesn’t hurt to have extra arms with MLB experience hanging around in AAA.
Nieve was on no one’s radar, but he was another former Met signed by the A’s on a minor-league deal. I included him here just for fun.
With Scott Rice and Josh Edgin under control, and a great relationship with Tim Byrdak, the Mets weren’t in the market for a LOOGY. But if you’re interested, a solid, lefthanded, thirtysomething reliever on the open market runs in the neighborhood of Lopez’s deal: 3 years, $13M.
You already know about this one, but listing Hawkins here for comparison and perspective. A solid, righthanded, fortysomething reliever on the open market runs around 1 year, $2.5M
Chronically injured, and with dangerous mechanics, I’m betting against Johnson’s comeback. However, he was the kind of pitcher many Mets fans and pundits figured would be on Sandy Alderson’s list of “low-risk, high reward” starters with injury issues — likely along with Roy Halladay. Johnson went where all dead pitchers go to resurrect their careers: San Diego. He received a one-year, $8M deal — likely too rich for the Mets’ budget for a roll-of-the-dice kind of guy. I imagine Halladay would command a similar contract, and, similarly, doubt the Mets are in a position to open up the purse for him.
There are still many arms left on the market, and we’ll go through them soon enough. But can the Mets afford any of them? Stay tuned. Meantime, let me know what you think of the pitchers already signed, and the contracts they’ve been given, and how that might affect the Mets’ plans this winter.