The New York Mets missed the boat on Shohei Otani, but it doesn’t appear as if there is a plan B in terms of the starting rotation. Otani chose not to put the Mets (or any East Coast team) among the finalists for his services, leaving the Mets out in the cold as they look to upgrade their pitching staff. Mets’ General Manager Sandy Alderson said late in the season that he would consider adding an innings eater to upgrade his rotation depth, but MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports that the team isn’t planning on pursuing other starters this winter.
This is a reversal of Alderson’s earlier stance, but things have changed since he mentioned that idea to the press. The Mets have hired a new manager, Mickey Callaway, with an extensive pitching background along with a highly regarded pitching coach in Dave Eiland. Those two have a reputation for getting the most out of talented pitchers, so the Mets are betting that they can fix their current collection of talented but injury prone starters. The Mets are also revamping their medical department and are in the process of hiring a performance director and a head athletic trainer. If these new hires can work together effectively, the Mets can keep their talented young pitchers healthy, giving them more time to work with Callaway and Eiland to improve their performance on the field.
The Mets also don’t have a ton of money to throw at free agents, and they have determined it is a better use of their resources to improve the bullpen. DiComo notes that the Mets are looking to at least one quality reliever to their bullpen, with a second a good possibility. The Mets are planning on limiting the workload of their starting pitchers, so it would make more sense to strengthen the bullpen with that approach in mind. The Mets also are in need of help in the infield and outfield, so throwing significant money at a middle of the rotation starter is a waste if they believe that their new staff can fix the current rotation members.
That isn’t to say that this area couldn’t be addressed later in the winter. As spring training approaches the Mets could always look to add a veteran starter on a one year deal without having to spend a ton of money. Veterans who haven’t signed at that point may simply be looking for a landing spot, like Doug Fister did a year ago. Fister ended up signing late in the spring and eventually made his way to the Boston Red Sox, where he started in their playoff rotation. That could be a viable option for Alderson down the line, but the Mets are clearly not interested in more starters at the moment.