The rumors! The offseason! If I wasn’t dreading the inevitable multi-week (multi-month?) lockout, I’d be having even more fun! Then again, there probably wouldn’t be as much action without it. Catch-22.
Mets Turn to Pitching
The Mets opened up the position player market earlier this week, signing Eduardo Escobar (two-years, $20M), Mark Canha (two-years, $26.5M), and Starling Marte (four years, $78M) to multi-year deals, so now it’s time to address their rotation.
And according to the latest, they’ve narrowed their field to three specific names, one of whom is square in the sights:
They’ve now shifted their focus towards the starting pitching market and are eyeing Kevin Gausman, Max Scherzer and Jon Gray.
And according to SNY, the Mets are “in hard” on Gausman and are trying to close a deal with him either today or tomorrow.
Gausman and Scherzer are in a tier above Gray right now. So even if the Mets are serious about signing two starting pitchers for 2022 as rumors have suggested, I’d have to imagine it would be one or the other (plus someone like Gray), not both.
#Mets are focused on pitching now. 1 name to watch: Jon Gray. Lots of interest in the industry on his upside and the Mets are part of the group that is trying for the RHP. Other clubs feel after Canha/Escobar/Marte, NYM will pivot to SP. 1 rival exec: “They want more than one."
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 27, 2021
Scherzer is also said to be looking for a record-breaking short-term contract, which could net him close to $40M/year (the rumors are even higher than that, but I don’t quite buy it), so adding him is a tough sell if you really want to do more in one winter. Then again, Mets owner Steve Cohen is crazy, this could be Jacob deGrom’s final season in New York, and New York just added a trio of older position players, so it’s very much all about 2022, as far as we can tell.
In any case, Gausman (a potential Cubs target this winter) seems to be the primary target, and the Mets are reportedly looking to get something done as soon as this weekend.
With some of the more attractive starting pitching targets melting off the board ahead of the December 1st CBA expiration, I sure hope the Cubs are prepared to be more than opportunistic. They have a lot of work to do, and some of their preferred targets might already be off the board by the time they’re ready to pounce.
Pitchers Not in Mets Sights?
Okay, so the Mets are looking at starters and we know Scherzer, Gray, and Gausman are the targets, but what about anyone else? According to Andy Martino, you can scratch Marcus Stroman off the board.
Gausman not the SP only target. In addition to Scherzer, Jon Gray, as @JonHeyman reported. Others too. Can also confirm Stroman's reporting last night about himself.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) November 27, 2021
Stroman, 30, is arguably the top (younger) free agent pitcher available this offseason, and he just completed a 3.4 WAR, 33 start, 3.02 ERA season for the Mets in 2022. But the other night, Stroman, himself, tweeted about the Mets apparent lack of interest in re-signing him this winter. And now Andy Martino is confirming that “report.” Color me a little surprised. Do the Mets know something about Stroman we don’t? Expected contract demands? Medicals (doubtful)? Or are there just new people running the show with different priorities? Anyway, that’s good to note, because Stroman is not attached to a qualifying offer and the Cubs are reportedly among the interested parties.
Meanwhile, Robbie Ray, who is attached to a qualifying offer, will not likely be a target of the Mets this winter*. After failing to sign their first rounder last season, the Mets have two first round picks in 2022, which means their draft pick compensation for signing Ray would climb to the 14th overall pick, which is a very steep price to pay.
*(Naturally, there is already a rumor that Ray *is* a target of the Mets, but I think we can guess that’s probably not the case given everything above.)
What Happened with Báez and Mets?
Brett speculated that the trio of signings in New York likely meant the end of the Báez-Mets rumors, and that appears to be the case, as they were apart on price and moved on.
Mets and Javier Baez are apart on price. Hence the pivot to pitching after Marte. Usual caveat applies to him and Stroman that things can change.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) November 27, 2021
In case you missed it, some Báez-Tigers rumors have since popped up and the Padres opened up a spot at second base, by trading Adam Frazier to the Mariners.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 27, 2021
Marlins After Missing Marte
The Marlins always felt like a longshot for Starling Marte, who just signed with the Mets for $78 million, but I do genuinely believe they were trying hard to land him. They seem serious about improving this winter, reportedly across the outfield and behind the plate.
Marlins final offer to Marte was strong but not within a few million of Mets' winning 4 year, 78 M offer, per source. Would be smart for Marlins to galvanize fans and address CF, corner OF or catcher with significant signing before likely MLB lockout begins in 5 days
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) November 27, 2021
The Marlins are reportedly interested in trading one of their younger starting pitchers to address their needs this offseason, but in a market fairly deep with starters, you wonder if it’s really the best time for that.