If the Mets are to be sellers at the trade deadline this year—and it has appeared that they should be lately—Dillon Gee might be a good player for the team to move. While he is perhaps underrated around baseball in general, the 28-year-old Gee’s 2.92 ERA compares favorably to many of his peers.
Gee made his major league debut late in the 2010 season, posting a 2.18 ERA in five starts despite poor strikeout and walk rates. He became a regular in 2011, but he pitched to a 4.43 ERA and 4.65 FIP, the latter of which was the result of continued poor peripherals. In 2012, however, Gee showed signs of turning the corner and had a 4.10 ERA and 3.71 FIP in seventeen starts. His strikeouts were up and his walks were down—significantly.
Unfortunately, Gee’s season came to a premature end in 2012 because of a freak blood clot in his shoulder. When he returned in 2013, his year got off on the wrong foot. Through ten starts, Gee had a 6.35 ERA.
On May 30, though, he rattled off a spectacular game at Yankee Stadium, and his number from that day forward have been pretty great. In thirty-two starts from the one in Yankee Stadium through his most recent, Gee has a 2.78 ERA with 6.31 strikeouts and 1.91 walks per nine innings, the latter of which is one of the better rates in the game.
Currently in his first year of arbitration, Gee is making $3.6 million this year. He’s eligible for two more rounds of arbitration in 2015 and 2016, which means he’ll cost more but won’t break the bank for the grand majority of Major League Baseball teams.
While the Mets don’t have ten starting pitchers who could pitch effectively in the big leagues today, it’s fair to say that they have depth at the position moving forward. While giving up Dillon Gee in a deal would not be insignificant to the major league club, it would be an understandable risk for the Mets to take—especially if their budget is as constrained as it seems to have been over the past several years.
There are plenty of contending teams that could use a starting pitcher as they attempt to earn a postseason spot this year. The fact that Gee is under team control for the rest of this season and the two seasons after that—his age-29 and age-30 years—makes him more than just a rental. Let’s take a look at some of the contending teams who could potentially use Gee.
|Team||2014 SP ERA (through 7/20)||Current rotation (per MLB Depth Charts)|
|Cleveland||4.45||Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, T.J. House, 5th SP|
|Baltimore||4.14||Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Kevin Gausman, Bud Norris, 5th SP|
|Toronto||3.92||Mark Buerhle, Drew Hutchinson, J.A. Happ, R.A. Dickey, Marcus Stroman|
|Milwaukee||3.92||Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson|
|Yankees||3.92||Brandon McCarthy, Hiroki Kuroda, Shane Greene, Chase Whitley, David Phelps|
|Pittsburgh||3.88||Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Edinson Volquez, Vance Worley|
|Detroit||3.84||Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, Drew Smyly|
|Los Angeles Angels||3.80||Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago|
Although a team like the Tigers might have more faith in its own five starting pitchers than Gee, he could very well be an upgrade to a few teams trying to lock down at least a Wild Card spot.
Put simply, Gee is not coming off a season like R.A. Dickey’s Cy Young campaign in 2012. He is, however, nearly ten years younger than Dickey was at the time and is under control at a reasonable salary through the 2016 season. So while the Mets might not be able to match the sort of return they got in trading away Dickey, they would figure to demand something of a prospect haul to part ways with Gee.
He might not command the return that Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel did for the Cubs, either, but Gee has been somewhere in between those two pitchers in terms of production over the last season-and-a-half. Unlike those pitchers, Gee has missed a significant amount of time in recent seasons, having just returned from a strained lat muscle after a couple of months on the disabled list. But the risk associated with Gee might be mitigated by his performance over the last year-plus and those couple of years of control beyond this one.