Mets Eye Free-Agent Pitchers for Next Season (2024)

Mets Eye Free-Agent Pitchers for Next Season (1)

Julio Urias (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

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The Mets need starting pitching next year, that certainly isn’t a secret of any kind.

After trading away Max Scherer and Justin Verlander at the trade deadline, the organization will have Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana, David Peterson, Tylor Megill, and Joey Lucchesi as the only pitchers with MLB experience under contract next season.

Senga has passed every test that comes with making the difficult jump from Japan to the majors with flying colors in an All-Star rookie season and Quintana has proven to be a reliable southpaw early in his Mets career. But Carlos Carrasco has played himself off the team this season with an ERA over 6.00, and major questions still loom over Megill, Peterson, Lucchesi with some young arms in the pipeline (Mike Vasil, Justin Jarvis) potentially making a push for the MLB roster come spring.

In theory, two arms are needed to stabilize the rotation and create legitimate depth — it just comes down to how much money owner Steve Cohen is looking to spend. After the trade deadline sale, general manager Billy Eppler and Cohen hinted that the Mets were shifting their focus toward legitimate World Series contention in 2025, meaning the spending won’t be as frenzied this winter.

Regardless, the free-agent market this winter will be flush with starting pitching talent. Here are seven options the Mets could pursue to build the staff back up.

The Blockbusters

Mets Eye Free-Agent Pitchers for Next Season (2)

Shohei Ohtani:The Angels’ collapse after going all in at the trade deadline all but seals the superstar’s fate in Los Angeles after another lost season. Ohtani himself is putting up historic numbers once again, slashing .306/.407/.664 (.1070 OPS) with 43 home runs and 89 RBI at the plate. On the mound, he’s 10-5 with a 3.37 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 130.2 innings. The Mets said they won’t be in the market for top-tier free agents, but the most remarkable talent of the last 100 years has to be too alluring for Steve Cohen to at least inquire.

Blake Snell:The 30-year-old southpaw continues to get better as his San Diego Padres tenure grows. His ERA has gone down from 4.20 in 2021 to 3.38 last season, to a league-leading 2.65 in 2023 with 176 strikeouts in 136 innings. He’s done this with some very clear command issues, however. He leads the league with 78 walks and a 6.2 hits-per-nine-innings mark, which has swollen his WHIP to 1.265 this year. He’ll command top dollar on the open market, but will the underlying factors create hesitation from Eppler and the Mets?

The Top Tier

Mets Eye Free-Agent Pitchers for Next Season (3)

Yoshinobu Yamamoto:The 25-year-old Japanese right-hander is ready to make the jump from Nipopn Professional Baseball with higher expectations than Kodai Senga had when he signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Mets last winter. Billy Eppler has already begun scouting Yamamoto, who continues to shine with the Orix Buffaloes. This season, he’s 12-5 with a 1.42 ERA and a minuscule WHIP of 0.898.

Julio Urias:Since he’s moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation, Urias has been one of the best starters in the National League, going 51-16 with a 2.97 ERA since the start of the 2020 season. In two years between 2021-2022, not only was his ERA a 2.57 while going 37-10 — including a 20-3 2021 — his WHIP was under a 1 and his strikeouts-to-walk ratio was at a 4.57. This season has seen a bit of a regression, though. He’s struggled with the long ball, allowing 18 so far as his ERA has swelled to 4.15.

Sonny Gray:Following a dismal spell with the crosstown Yankees from 2017-2018, Gray has rediscovered his top-end stuff — first with the Cincinnati Reds before joining the Minnesota Twins. Over the last five seasons, he’s 37-31 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.162 WHIP. Across two years with the Twins, that figure shrinks to 3.12 even though the second half of the 2023 campaign hasn’t been the kindest to him. Over his last eight starts, he owns a 4.38 ERA but is still averaging over six innings per outing during that span. Talking about handling the bright lights of New York is certainly over-discussed, but a jump back to the Big Apple with the Mets would certainly rehash those concerns.

The Wild Cards

Mets Eye Free-Agent Pitchers for Next Season (4)

Lucas Giolito:The 29-year-old righty looked as though he was figuring things out in 2023 with the Chicago White Sox, going 6-6 with a 3.79 ERA, more than 100 points lower than the 4.90 ERA he put up last season. But a trade to the Angels at the deadline has been a nightmare so far. He’s allowed 19 runs on 24 hits in 21 innings pitched (8.14 ERA) with six home runs allowed. After posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts back in 2017, Giolito was one of the worst pitchers in the AL in 2018 when he went 10-13 with a 6.13 ERA and a 1.477 WHIP. He figured it out from 2019-2021, putting up a 3.47 ERA and 1.076 WHIP in 427.2 innings pitched — but the inconsistencies do present massive question marks this winter.

Aaron Nola:When he’s on, he’s one of the best pitchers in the National League. When he’s not, he’s an albatross. The Philadelphia Phillies’ co-ace can’t seem to find the sort of consistency to propel his career to the next level, putting together solid campaigns semi-annually. Since 2018 when he finished third in the NL Cy Young voting, his ERA has jumped up every other year by at least 100 points.

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Mets Eye Free-Agent Pitchers for Next Season (2024)
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