The New York Mets lured Michael Wacha with a starting spot and he plans to have it despite the fact that there are six starters on the team.
According to Michael Wacha, the New York Mets told him that he would be a starter this year. Yet, not even 24 hours after signing Wacha, the Mets came to an agreement with Rick Porcello. That gives the Mets six starting pitchers for five spots.
Wacha stands out as the one most likely to head to the bullpen, but he doesn’t plan on that. In a press conference on Friday, Wacha made it clear that he plans to start.
“They said they had a spot to start,” Wacha said, per SNY. “I’m here to be in that rotation and be out there every fifth day. That’s my plan, that’s my mindset going into this offseason is preparing for that role. I think it’s a great fit.”
However, the details of Wacha’s contract directly contradict his statement. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post had the full breakdown:
Michael Wacha's contract with the #Mets features an array of bonuses. He can top out at $7 million with 30 starts or relief appearances of 3-plus innings, or $1 million with 55 relief appearances.
— Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) December 13, 2019
It’s clear the Mets had planned for the possibility of Wacha moving to the bullpen. They gave multiple incentives in case of that possibility. The two most notable are 55 relief appearances and 30 relief appearances of at least three innings.
Those aren’t incentives that a team gives to a player they are sure will start the whole season. On the contrary, it seems like they believe he’ll be in the bullpen for a long stretch of this season.
That makes sense considering he’s less durable and has worse stuff than Rick Porcello.
It’s not impossible for Wacha to earn a starting job this season. However, it looks unlikely that he’ll be a starter on opening day. The one hope he has is that the Mets aren’t completely sold on Steven Matz.
When asked about Matz at the Winter Meetings Mets’ general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was coy. He wouldn’t name Matz a starter. It’s possible that the Mets view Matz as a long-term bullpen piece.
His left-handed stuff would certainly play up out of the bullpen. It’s possible he adapts to the role like Seth Lugo has. On the other hand, it’s clear he’s a superior starting pitcher to Michael Wacha.
The New York Mets seem to be headed for a pitching battle this spring.