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Max Scherzer, James Shields would make sense for Mets—if they could afford them

The team would boast a great rotation with either one of the two free agents.

Leon Halip/Getty Images

It seems pretty unlikely that the Mets could take on additional salary for the 2015 season. But in the event that they could, it might make sense for them to sign one of the two top starting pitchers left on the free agent market: Max Scherzer and James Shields.

The team’s biggest hole at the moment is undoubtedly shortstop, a position that is Wilmer Flores’s to lose, even though Wilmer Flores might not be a shortstop at all. The rest of the roster is not perfect, either, but the team is set to begin spring training with quite a bit of starting pitching depth. At least eight pitchers on the Mets’ roster could reasonably be slotted into the rotation on Opening Day: Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero. The Mets’ front office has clearly been reluctant to part with any of its young pitchers, which has an effect on the team’s ability to trade for a player like a shortstop to fortify the rest of the roster.

Despite that depth, signing one of Scherzer or Shields would give the Mets one hell of a rotation. It would probably look something like this:

  • Matt Harvey
  • Max Scherzer/James Shields
  • Zack Wheeler
  • Jacob deGrom
  • Bartolo Colon

With a bullpen consisting of:

  • Jenrry Mejia
  • Jeurys Familia
  • Carlos Torres
  • Vic Black
  • Josh Edgin
  • Jon Niese
  • Dillon Gee

Of course, Parnell could presumably join the bullpen not too far into the season. Syndergaard might not be all that far off, and Montero has already pitched a bit in the big leagues. Steven Matz could come knocking at some point this year if he excels in Triple-A Las Vegas, too. The Mets would be overstocked with pitching, but they would be very well covered in the likely event of pitcher injuries—even relatively minor ones.

If every pitcher were completely healthy upon Parnell’s return, the team would at the very least be able to find a team to take one of Gee, Niese, or Colon, who are making five, seven, and eleven million dollars in 2015, respectively. The 30-year-old Scherzer and 33-year-old Shields are in different tiers, but both are above-average and would slot in ahead of at least a couple of the Mets’ current starters. And since the team already surrendered its first-round pick in the upcoming amateur draft, it would ony have to give up its second-round pick to sign either pitcher.

The odds of the Mets actually signing either pitcher are low since the odds that the Mets can’t afford to sign either pitcher are high. But if they were to do so, they could have an outstanding rotation with plenty of depth with which to make a trade or fill in for other injured pitchers.