The Mets might not stay in-house to replace Zack Wheeler in the pitching rotation, but their recent interest on the market makes it clear that they aren’t willing to make a big splash, either.
As first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman this weekend, there is mutual interest between the Mets and free-agent starting pitcher Rick Porcello.
It’s an underwhelming name after the Mets let Wheeler — who has been with the organization since 2013 — walk. And to their division rivals, no less, as the righty inked a five-year, $118 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies last week.
His departure provided a sizable chink in the Mets’ rotational armor, which is still one of the better starting staffs — at least on paper. New York boasts the two-time defending NL Cy Young Award winner in Jacob deGrom to lead a group featuring Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Steven Matz.
Going out and getting a big name in free agency to round out the rotation would be all the indication needed that the Mets are going for it in 2020.
Porcello, however, suggests otherwise.
The 30-year-old righty, who is a New Jersey native, has had a miserable three-year stretch since winning the American League Cy Young Award with the Boston Red Sox in 2016.
That year saw him go 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA with 189 strikeouts in 223 innings.
In his following 98 starts, Porcello is 42-36 with a 4.79 ERA. That includes a 2019 season that saw him post a miserable 5.52 ERA in 174.1 innings of work.
Those numbers are a considerable downgrade from Wheeler, who has a much more live arm and a higher ceiling. Acquiring Porcello would make him the No. 5 starter while bumping Matz up to the No. 4 slot.
Matz went 11-10 with a 4.21 ERA in 160.1 innings of work last season.
Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s interest in Porcello could come with the hopes of his numbers improving with a move to the National League. After all, Porcello spent the past five seasons in the offensively-loaded American League East.
What is likely the largest reason for the Mets’ involvement, though, is the price tag.
Porcello is going to be a bargain signing wherever he goes in hopes that a change of scenery can help reclaim his Cy Young-worthy stuff.
Instead of having to shell out $23.6 million per season for a pitcher like Wheeler, the Mets could pay between $10 million and $12 million per year for Porcello.