While there was some question as to what the 2024 season was going to be like for the Mets, it doesn’t appear as though they’re going to tank. Based on recent reports, they could be selectively aggressive in their pursuits of specific pending free agents. But that doesn’t mean they won’t also pursue trade targets to rebuild the starting rotation.
New York has spent lots of money over the past couple of winters. And for good reason, too. They wanted to win right now, and team owner Steve Cohen’s money was the best way to make it happen.
That’s looking like it’ll continue this winter. Due to Shohei Ohtani’s UCL injury and Julio Urias being an absolute piece of garbage (allegedly), 25-year-old NPB ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be even more popular than before. But still, the Mets appear to be favorites to land the Japanese hurler.
Let’s play out a hypothetical scenario. The Mets are looking to contend in 2024 and indeed land Yamamoto for their rotation. This would put him on a starting staff with Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana. Depending on how the club feels about David Peterson and Tylor Megill by season’s end, New York would likely need to go out and add at least one more starting pitcher to the mix.
They could pursue a hurler on a short-term deal via free agency. But after collecting only position-player prospects at the deadline, they could turn around and send some minor leaguers away in a trade for a big-league arm. In talking about the Mets’ 2024 rotation outlook, SNY’s John Harper named the following pitchers as potential options: Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Shane Bieber, Tyler Glasnow, and Mitch Keller.
Harper wasn’t suggesting that any of these pitchers would be available this winter. However, they all fit a similar mold: they’re nearing free agency and play for small-market teams who don’t usually shell out big-money contracts. Here’s a quick breakdown of their situations:
- Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers: Will both be free agents following 2024.
- Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians: Will be a free agent following 2024.
- Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays: Under contract through 2024.
- Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates: Will be a free agent following 2025.
All of these hurlers fit into the Mets’ current organizational philosophy of not tying up too many long-term contracts in the rotation.
Of course, this doesn’t take Mike Vasil’s future into consideration at all. MLB.com ranks him as the Mets’ ninth-best prospect. However, he’s also the most advanced top pitching prospect in the organization. He’s split his 2023 season between Double-A and Triple-A.
Vasil has posted a 5.28 ERA through 13 starts in Syracuse. That came after twirling a 3.88 ERA in 10 starts for Binghamton. Before getting lit up for five runs in 1.2 innings on September 1st, Vasil was on a four-start tear. It included a 1.75 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 25.2 innings.
What’s important overall here is that the Mets may have more options to supplement the starting staff than in recent years. Billy Eppler and Co. haven’t liked trading away talent from what’s been a farm system thin on top talent. Spending in free agency was the obvious alternative. But now with a lot more talent injected into the system thanks to recent moves, it could make swinging a trade easier for the Mets to swallow than in the past.