With recent reports suggesting the New York Mets could jump into the starting pitching market, let’s learn a little bit about one possible target, Lance Lynn.
The New York Mets‘ starting pitching has been an ‘if’ for some time now. The narrative around the team’s rotation will never revolve around a lack of talent, but it will always involve their streaky health.
So, with question marks surrounding every starting pitcher sans Jacob deGrom, the addition of a starter would be warranted for both depth and production purposes.
The idea of the Mets adding an external starter was just a pipe dream a few weeks ago, but with the current stagnant market and Spring Training rapidly approaching, prices could be on the downslope.
Latest on #Mets, per sources: Nunez, Frazier currently leading infield choices. Team leery of getting used by Frazier if he prefers #Yankees,
reluctant to bring back Walker, getting no traction on #Pirates’ Harrison. Also interested in adding SP – Cobb or Lynn – if prices fall.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 3, 2018
According to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, the Mets have taken notice to the quiet market and a starting pitcher could be added to a contract they deem worthwhile. So, let’s get to know Lance Lynn and what he could potentially bring to Queens.
Lynn, 30, is in the prime of his career and he pitched like it last season. In 33 starts for the St. Louis Cardinals, Lynn strung together an 11-8 record along with a 3.43 ERA.
He was able to throw 186.1 innings and struck out 153 batters in the process, good for a 7.4 K/9. What made 2017 even more impressive for Lynn was the fact that he missed the entire 2016 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Since becoming a starter in 2012, Lynn has managed to throw at least 175.1 innings in every year except 2016.
If we take a glance back to this offseason’s beginning, we can see that Lynn was once rumored to be looking for a five-year, $100 million contract on the open market.
Rick Hummel on @TMASTL: I think Lance Lynn will be looking for 5 yrs/100 million dollars. I don't know if the #STLCards would do that.
— Tim McKernan (@tmckernan) July 5, 2017
That’s a lot of money to shell out for a pitcher who will not be the ace of your staff. However, taking a look at MLB Trade Rumors‘ projected contracts, Lynn is only listed for a four-year, $56 million deal, for what it’s worth.
That seems like fair value for one of the league’s top No. 2 starters. If the market prices do fall in the coming weeks, as many believe they will, Lynn could quickly become a value signing for a team like the Mets.
As noted in the background section, Lynn was only able to post a 7.4 K/9 in 2017, which was a career low. Not only were his strikeout numbers down last season, but his walk rate of 3.8 was a career high.
That’s not necessarily surprising, as command and control are often the last things a pitcher coming off of Tommy John surgery reclaims.
Lynn has five offerings in his arsenal, which include a fastball, cutter, sinker, slider, and changeup. Even with those five pitches at his disposal, he mostly relies on his fastball and sinker to get the job done, as he threw them a combined 81 percent of the time in 2017.
Lynn will never be mistaken for a power pitcher, as his average fastball velocity sits at 92.6 mph. But what he lacks in velocity he makes up for with movement and results.
His fastball was valued at 15.4 runs above average by FanGraphs for the 2017 season, and Lynn was able to induce a ground ball on 44 percent of balls that were put in play against him.
Lynn is a durable, workhorse that is an elite middle-of-the-rotation arm who keeps the ball on the ground. His track record of both eating innings and never pitching to an ERA above 3.97 make him an ideal candidate to stabilize the Mets rotation in 2018.
The deciding factor will undoubtedly come down to the money like it always does. Will Lynn be asking for a five-year deal in the range of $80 million? Or will he settle for three or four years at a reasonable annual salary? We’ll just have to wait and see.