Mets Free Agent Options: Bargain-Bin Starting Pitchers

Doug Pensinger

A look at a few pitchers who could help the Mets rotation this year

Inspired by our guest writer, Charlie Wilmoth of Bucs Dugout, who earlier today wrote about the starting pitchers the Mets have been linked to, I've decided to write an article about the starters the Mets have not been linked to. Looking through this year's remaining free agent starting pitching market, a few names pop out, with Roy Oswalt topping the list.

Let's run through the guys I find most interesting to try to determine the best deal the Mets can find. In addition to the names Charlie mentioned in his piece — some of whom would keep a spot warm until Zack Wheeler is ready — there are pitchers like Tim Stauffer on the market who might be able to do the same.

Erik Bedard

If you look solely at Bedard's ERA, you'll probably come to the conclusion that the injury prone veteran is washed up. But if you look at his peripherals, you'll be surprised to see that he in fact pitched to a solid 4.07 FIP in 2012, better than both Carl Pavano and Joe Saunders. What interests me the most about Bedard is his ability to strike batters out. Unlike the pitchers the Mets have reportedly targeted, Bedard had an above average 21.2 percent strikeout rate last year. While his walk rate has declined and he does have a history of injuries, I wouldn't be surprised if Bedard put together a strong 2013 campaign.

Dallas Braden

Wait a second, Dallas Braden is a free agent? He is, but he's also coming off the same surgery Johan Santana and Chris Young had on their shoulders. He's targeting the All-Star break for his return and being that the fifth spot in the rotation will most likely belong to Zack Wheeler by then, Braden's not the best option for the Mets. That said, you can never have enough pitching, and Braden, when healthy, is a good pitcher. Braden's career 3.99 FIP could really help the Mets' rotation or bullpen in the second half.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Matsuzaka is an interesting case. His stuff is greatly mitigated by very poor command. Maybe coming off an injury-marred campaign, Matsuzaka would be willing to tamper with his mechanics. The Mets might as well roll the dice on him, and if the rotation doesn't work, maybe he'd be a decent bullpen option. They'd probably be able to entice him to sign by affording him the opportunity of winning a spot in the rotation.

Roy Oswalt

Oswalt is far and away the best free agent pitcher available today. He suffered a similar fate to Bedard this past season; his ERA differed from his actual performance. The difference is Oswalt wasn't mediocre, he was downright dominating. Oswalt's 3.17 SIERA was excellent compared to his ridiculously unlucky 5.80 ERA. Oswalt's strikeout percentage was a very nice 22.4, while he did his best Cliff Lee impression, walking just 4.2 percent of opposing hitters.

The issue with Oswalt is threefold. First, I'm not sure he is interested in pitching this season. Second, even if he is, he probably wants to pitch for a contender. Third, he'd probably be too expensive for the Mets. All that aside, if Oswalt just really wanted to pitch in the Big Apple before his career was over and somehow forgot about the Yankees, he could back a nice package come July.

Tim Stauffer

Another pitcher coming off an arm injury, Stauffer probably will not be ready until May. He is still a worthwhile option to consider. He missed last season due to injury, but in 2011 Stauffer pitched really well. He posted a 3.73 ERA and 3.86 SIERA. Due to his injury, I'd be surprised if anyone offered Stauffer more than a minor league deal, and he'd immediately become the best option for the Mets' last rotation spot. Stauffer is even connected with the Mets' current front office. He was in the Padres organization while Sandy Alderson Alderson and Paul DePodesta both worked there.

***

All in all, there seem to be quite a few options that I haven't seen linked to the Mets so far this offseason. While there's some kind of flaw with each of the players above, none of them are any worse than Carl Pavano.

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