The New York Mets know, after the disappointing 2021 campaign they just had, that starting pitching is one of the priorities for the offseason.
They finished the season 77-85, third in the National League East after leading the division for more than half of the campaign.
Behind their collapse was a series of injuries to key players, one of them being ace Jacob deGrom.
Arguably the Mets’ best pitcher, deGrom put up a minuscule 1.08 ERA in 92 innings, with 4.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), but missed the whole second half with elbow woes.
Taijuan Walker (4.47 ERA in 159 frames) fell off a cliff in the second half and also lost time with injury.
Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to rejoin the rotation in June or July, ended up making just two relief appearances in September after suffering setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Bringing Back Stroman Is A Must
Only Marcus Stroman was able to stay healthy and effective all year, evidenced by his 3.02 ERA in 179 frames, with 3.4 WAR.
He is now a free agent after taking a qualifying offer last year.
The Mets lost Syndergaard, who was a free agent too, to the Los Angeles Angels, after they offered him a one-year, $21 million deal superior to the qualifying offer he had on the table by the Mets (one-year, $18.4 million).
Stroman has been very vocal about his desire to receive a multi-year deal worth millions.
Whether he gets it from the Mets or not, that’s his desire, so he won’t come cheap.
The Mets, however, can’t afford to let him to go to another team.
With questions surrounding deGrom’s health, and with Lucchesi out for the year with Tommy John surgery, they need a sure thing at the top of their rotation in 2022.
Stroman proved last year, after adding a split-change to his repertoire, that he is a solid number two pitcher.
New York, however, needs more than just Stroman.
I did mess up the last tweet. If the Mets can realistically land both Kevin Gausman and Marcus Stroman they should absolutely do it
They need to make moves that go above and beyond
— Pat Ragazzo (@ragazzoreport) November 24, 2021
Virtually everybody else mentioned in this article is either gone via free agency or injured.
Pitching Plans For 2022
The Mets need at least three starters to help them navigate through the 2022 season, and ideally, two of them would need to be All-Stars or close to that level.
The problem, for them, appears to be their unwillingness to pursue free agents with qualifying offers attached to them.
Some will get mad, but as I wrote for @SNYtv, making the team better and building up the farm doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive
— Joe DeMayo (@PSLToFlushing) November 23, 2021
If the Mets sign one of these, they would need to surrender their second-highest draft pick.
Since they failed to sign Kumar Rocker this year, they will get that pick back in 2022’s Draft.
But the next pick, their own (the 14th) is in danger of going to another team if they sign a player who received and rejected a qualifying offer.
New general manager Billy Eppler still has plenty of targets to choose from, even after losing out on Steven Matz.
The Mets need to use this offseason to vastly improve their starting pitching if they want to have a chance next year.