The Mets are very familiar with Mike Pelfrey. Drafted by the organization in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft with the ninth overall pick, Pelfrey was once a highly-touted prospect in the Mets' system. He struggled in his first 19 major league appearances between 2006 and 2007, posting a 5.55 ERA and 78 ERA+ in 94 innings of work.
From 2008, his age-24 season, through 2012, he was significantly better than that, though he never lived up to the prospect status he once held. In that time, Pelfrey posted a 4.22 ERA and 94 ERA+, numbers that more or less defined what exactly he was as a big league pitcher. His ERA varied wildly from year to year, but his defense-independent FIP was far more consistent. He was occasionally maddening to watch, but there were far worse pitchers in baseball.
Pelfrey began the 2012 season with the Mets but had to undergo Tommy John surgery on May 1. The combination of his performance and the injury gave the Mets sufficient cause to non-tender the arbitration-eligible Pelfrey after the season. He went on to sign a one-year, $4 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and earned an extra $100,000 in incentives by pitching greater than 150 innings.
Less than a year after his surgery, Pelfrey returned to the big leagues with a start against the Tigers on April 4, 2013. But he pitched to some very poor results over the course of the year despite the fact that the Twins play in a pitcher's park. Pelfrey's 5.19 ERA was the worst single-season mark of his career, but his 3.99 FIP was in line with his track record.
Even though Pelfrey's numbers look pretty pedestrian—especially by 2013 standards—it's hard to imagine he'll settle for a deal as low as the one he signed this season. But he might not require a commitment beyond one year, and he certainly won't be one of the top paid pitchers on the free agent market this winter. He certainly won't receive a qualifying offer from the Twins, which means there won't be any draft pick cost for signing him away from Minnesota.
Sure, the Mets have lots of starting pitching depth in the minors, but they're not very likely to insert Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard in their Opening Day rotation. And that's assuming those guys haven't been traded away for a position player before Opening Day. Perhaps other free agent pitchers—Scott Kazmir, Josh Johnson, and the like—are more intriguing, but the Mets could do worse at the tail end of their rotation than Big Pelf.