A top priority for the New York Mets this winter will be starting pitching, and the team reportedly could target several arms in this year’s market.
There is no other way to say it than the Mets 2023 campaign was a complete disaster. Despite having stars like Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander they were so disappointing after the first few months that they threw up the white flag on the season and were sellers at the trade deadline.
Following their fire sale in August, the organization created a clear need heading into the offseason. All-Star Kodai Senga needs help in the starting rotation. In a conversation on Wednesday with Newsday, new President of Baseball Operations David Stearns confirmed pitching will be a priority in free agency and they will actually be shopping for multiple arms when the market opens this month.
The Mets have a huge amount of debt after essentially buying elite prospects in August by agreeing to pay much of Scherzer and Verlander’s remaining money. This means they may not spend like they have in years past.
With that in mind, let’s look at five pitchers they are likely to target this winter that range from pricey to affordable.
From expensive to affordable: 5 starters the New York Mets could target in free agency
If you haven’t realized it yet, Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto is, arguably, the most sought-after pitcher on this year’s market and New York is very interested. The team was better positioned to sign him when former general manager Billy Eppler was around, however, having the deepest pockets and a strong desire still make them a top contender.
Furthermore, Senga has reportedly campaigned for the organization to sign him, and having a fellow countryman on the roster who quickly succeeded in year one in the US is a big advantage the Mets have in the chase.
The Phillies are not expected to retain Aaron Nola this offseason, and considering the rival National League East club signed away Zach Wheeler a few years back, maybe taking Nola away from the team that drafted him would be some interesting revenge for the New York Mets.
Nola is a one-time All-Star who has won 12 or more games four times in his career, including this season. He pitched well in the 2023 postseason and is right in the middle of his prime. A contract high on annual pay but not on years might be an option for the Mets.
Three-time All-Star Sonny Gray may not get the same attention as Yamamoto or Blake Snell in this year’s free-agent class, but he is still a very strong option on the market. He had a career year in 2023 as he earned his third trip to the mid-summer classic. What is notable, is that he has played in New York previously with the Yankees and is a player that understands the pressure of the market and fanbase. Something that often has a major effect on new fish in the big baseball city.
Speaking of Yankees veterans, two-time All-Star Luis Severino could be another option for the New York Mets this winter. He has had trouble recapturing his top-of-the-rotation form since Tommy John surgery in 2020, however, he showed he isn’t far off when he went 7-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 2022. He could be a budget project with upside since he also is used to the pressurized NYC market.
Hyun Jin Ryu
Hyun Jin Ryu is a one-time All-Star who might be a great budget option for the Mets in the MLB free-agent market. While injuries have bedeviled him at points during his career, including in the last two seasons, it is hard to overlook a player who has won 14 games four different times during a career pitching only in the always tough NL West and AL East.