Who should fill out Mets' rotation in 2022? Breaking down internal and external options

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Tylor Megill Sean Manaea Carlos Rodon David Peterson
Tylor Megill Sean Manaea Carlos Rodon David Peterson

Whenever the MLB lockout ends -- and it kind of has to end by the middle of February in order for the season to start on time -- the Mets will get back to work building their roster for 2022 and figuring out how every piece will fit.

The Mets did a lot of their heavy lifting before the lockout, but there are still a bunch of areas that need to be shored up.

One of those areas is the infield, which we recently dove into here.

Another area is the bullpen, which could use a lefty and maybe one more late-inning option.

But it can be argued that the Mets' biggest need is in the starting rotation, where at least one more reliable arm is needed.

Let's break it down...

What is already set?

Following the Mets' signing of Max Scherzer, which sent shockwaves through the industry and set them up to have one of the best 1-2 punches in the history of the sport, there are four rotation spots currently taken.

At the top will be Jacob deGrom, followed by Scherzer. Carlos Carrasco (whose 2021 season was derailed by injuries) and Taijuan Walker (whose 2021 took a downturn in the second half) are also guaranteed rotation spots if healthy and effective.

And the "if healthy" caveat unfortunately also still applies to deGrom, who should hopefully be good to go after missing the entire second half of last season due to an elbow injury.

Max Scherzer, Steve Cohen and Jacob deGrom
Max Scherzer, Steve Cohen and Jacob deGrom

If the Mets could peek into the future and know that deGrom, Carrasco, and Walker would be largely healthy in 2022, they'd be thrilled.

But the unknown is too great for them to be fully comfortable with the rotation as it stands.

Internal options

Tylor Megill was very impressive after being called on while the Mets were being decimated by injuries last season, but he struggled badly after his early success.

Megill allowed four earned runs or more in six of his last 11 starts of the season, and gave up 19 home runs in his 89.2 innings of work overall. That would translate to about 40 home runs over a full season, which would be alarmingly bad.

That doesn't mean Megill, whose advanced metrics are a mixed bag, doesn't have potential. But it's hard to rely on him as the No. 5 starter.

What about David Peterson?

Jun 25, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets pitcher Dave Peterson (23) pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field.
Jun 25, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets pitcher Dave Peterson (23) pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field.

After a strong rookie season in 2020, there was hope that Peterson could become a key cog in the rotation. And that still might happen.

But his 2021 was rough, as he had flashes of brilliance (including a dominant 7.1 inning performance against the Rays in Tampa) but more disastrous outings and bouts of wildness (including a 1.2 inning stint and another start where he recorded just one out).

On June 30, Peterson was shelled in his final start of the year before a foot injury and eventual surgery ended his season.

Like Megill, it's hard for the Mets to justify having Peterson as their No. 5 starter entering 2022.

Other starting pitching options on the 40-man roster include Trevor Williams and Jose Butto, but Williams will likely be a depth or bullpen piece, while Butto likely needs more time in the minors.

External options

If the Mets had more certainty in the rotation, the best move might be trying to sign free agent Carlos Rodon to a big-money one-year deal. But Rodon has his own health concern, having dealt with a shoulder issue in 2021.

Beyond Rodon, the list of free agent starters is not very appealing.

The potential trade targets, on the other hand, are appealing.

Sep 26, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Sep 26, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

The most intriguing name is Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo. But with the Reds trying to compete, it might be more likely for them to deal Castillo after the 2022 season -- when he'll have just one year of team control left.

And as it pertains to Castillo, the cost it would take to acquire him now might not interest the Mets anyway -- not with them understandably reluctant to deal top prospects.

Trading for Castillo's teammate, Sonny Gray, might cost a bit less. But he's on a relatively team-friendly deal (he'll earn $10.2 million in 2022, with Cincinnati holding a $12 million club option for 2023).

For the Mets, who could dangle players such as J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and/or Dominic Smith, the best trade partner could possibly be the Oakland Athletics, who are in firesale mode and open to trading Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt, and Frankie Montas.

Verdict

The Mets need to add a starter who will likely eat a lot of innings and who can ideally do so while pitching in the middle of their rotation.

That would eliminate Rodon due to his injury issues, and eliminate other intriguing but high-risk options on the free agent market like Clayton Kershaw.

Someone like Manaea could be a perfect fit, and it's likely that he'll cost less to acquire than Bassitt (who received Cy Young votes the last two seasons) and Montas (who is under team control through 2023).