In case you’ve missed it so far this offseason, the Mets have a lot of holes to fill in their pitching staff. Could the Tampa Bay Rays help New York out on that front in trade discussions?
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Tampa is deep in negotiations with multiple teams ahead of Tuesday’s Rule 5 roster protection deadline. New York isn’t the only club trying to nab some of the Rays’ team-controlled players, though:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 14, 2022
As we’ve covered a few times already, the Mets have holes to fill in both their rotation and bullpen. Regarding the starting staff, Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco are two vets who are coming back. In the bullpen, Edwin Diaz serves as the anchor, while Drew Smith is the only other hurler with significant experience.
The Mets have young arms who could do the job. Tylor Megill, David Peterson, and Joey Lucchesi immediately come to mind. But for a win-now club, they’ll want a little more experience on the roster. The Rays, who always pump out solid talent from their farm system, is a great place to look for some cost-controlled value.
Who could New York be targeting? The biggest name on Tampa’s staff is Tyler Glasnow. However, there are some things to consider on that front. Glasnow was enjoying a breakout season in 2021 before having to undergo Tommy John surgery. He did make it all the way back in 2022, proving his health while averaging 97.6 mph on his fastball.
Glasnow has only tossed 100-plus innings once in his career (111.2 in 2018). He’s also under contract through 2024. He’ll be making $5.35 million in 2023, followed by $25 million the next year. The Rays may have done that to get some cost certainty for another year. Or, this makes it easier to trade him if the right offer comes along.
Either way, he should be the Mets’ top target. Three other names that could be interesting include left-handers Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Yarbrough, along with right-hander Yonny Chirinos.
Springs and Yarbrough are currently slotted into the fourth and fifth spots of the Rays’ 2023 rotation, according to Roster Resource. Chirinos is slotted into the Triple-A depth chart, but he also spent time on the injured list throughout 2022.
All three of these hurlers should be attractive to the Mets for the same reasons. The financial cost is low, there are multiple years of control, and they have experience as both starters and relievers.
Across four seasons between the Rays, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox, Springs was pretty much exclusively a relief pitcher. Then in 2022 with Tampa, 25 of his 33 appearances came as starts. He racked up 135.1 innings with a 2.46 ERA, 26.2% strikeout rate, and a 5.6% walk rate, resulting in 3.0 fWAR. He won’t be a free agent until 2025 and is projected to earn $3 million next season, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Yarbrough has split his time more evenly between the bullpen and rotation while in Tampa. Through 50 appearances in the past two seasons, the southpaw has made 30 starts. He’s produced an ERA north of 4.50 on both occasions, resulting in just 1.3 cumulative fWAR. Yarbrough will also be a free agent following 2024 and is projected to earn $4.2 million in arbitration.
Chirinos has been limited to just 18.1 innings since 2021. He’s mostly been a productive contributor since debuting in 2018. His last full season came in 2019 when the righty posted a 3.85 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 133.1 innings. This included 26 total appearances, with 18 of those coming as starts. Like the other two mentioned above, Chirinos is under team control through 2024. He’s slated to earn $1.6 million next season.
Tampa has plenty of team-controlled players that could likely be had in a trade, but these are certainly a few that stand out. Having the capability to pitch in both the rotation and bullpen would give the Mets the flexibility that Trevor Williams provided them in 2022.