COMMENTARY | In a September 3rd interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson discussed his plan for the 2014 season. Matt Harvey possibly being lost for the entire season has altered the original plan.
Alderson said he's now interested in finding a veteran starting pitcher to take his place and fortify the staff. He tried to do the same thing last year with Shaun Marcum, but his 1-10 record and 5.29 ERA didn't work out very well.
In an effort to sign a pitcher that will yield the Mets with better results, here are five hurlers New York could consider going after this winter in the free agent market.
At first glance, Haren's statistics (8-12 record, 5.02 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 124 strikeouts in 141.2 innings pitched) don't jump off the page. His performance in the second half has been much better. Prior to the All-Star game, he was 4-10 with a 5.61 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Since the mid-summer classic, he's settled down with a 4-2 record, 3.88 ERA, and 1.01 WHIP.
He's finishing a one-year/$13 million deal with the Washington Nationals, but his overall body of work for 2013 suggests he could take another short-term deal to prove himself. He has the ability to lead a staff, and he could become perfect trade bait come July.
Vargas has had a successful 2013, which was his first with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He's currently 8-5 with a 3.54 ERA, and 1.37 WHIP in 114.1 innings pitched. At the age of 30, he'll be entering free agency for the first time in his career. He's making $8.5 million this season in Southern California, and will try to turn this season into a multi-year deal.
It will be up to Sandy Alderson as to how he wants to approach the free agent pitching market, but they shouldn't be limited to handing out one-year deals. They have enough financial flexibility to offer a multi-year contract, and as long as he performs well, he could still be used as mid-season trade bait.
Yes, the same Scott Kazmir that was a former first round selection by the Mets in 2002. In his first full season since 2010, the southpaw has put together a nice year for the Cleveland Indians. He's currently 7-7 with a 4.36 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 130 innings pitched.
Similar to Vargas, having a second left-hander to compliment Jonathon Niese in the Mets' rotation would be beneficial to breaking out the right-handers. While he's had a good season, the market for him may be another one-year contract to prove his health and effectiveness.
A union between Hughes and the Mets has been talked about for quite some time. While he's 4-13 with a 4.86 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and was just demoted to the bullpen, he's a fly ball pitcher in a very hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. His ground ball to fly ball ratio has always been below 1.00, but the 0.65 mark he currently has in 2013 is the lowest of his big league career.
The confines of Citi Field are much more favorable to pitchers than Yankee Stadium will ever be. He'll be turning 28 next season, and at a 2013 salary of $7.15 million, his price wouldn't be astronomical. He may even settle for a one-year deal to maximize his value and get a long-term deal prior to the 2015 season.
Hudson's season ended prematurely because of an ankle injury he suffered at Citi Field. It was unfortunate because he was having a wonderful year with the Atlanta Braves. He put together an 8-7 record with a 3.97 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 131.1 innings of work.
He'll be entering his age-39 season, but I believe Hudson is the free agent the Mets should most aggressively pursue this winter. He'd likely be the most willing to take a one-year deal given his age and current situation. Hudson has also been at the head of a pitching staff for most of his career. While he's being a leader, he has the ability to win games, take the ball every fifth day and be generally effective, something that escaped Marcum this season.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, and Rising Apple. He currently serves as Executive Editor of MetsMinors.net .
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