As has been discussed in parts one and two of this series, the Mets are a few weeks into the offseason and still have just four major league starting pitchers under team control. Free agency hasn’t moved quickly for anyone at this point, but the Mets’ internal solutions—moving Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo to the rotation or filling things out with Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, or Chris Flexen—are far from ideal for a team that intends to contend.
With that, we continue down the list of free agent pitchers using an arbirtary method: in order by ERA in 2019 with a minimum of 100 innings pitched as a starter. That’s not the way the Mets should find their starting pitcher, but it makes for a clean process of churning through the list for the purposes of the series.
Picking up where the series left off, which was at Tanner Roark and his 4.35 ERA, we arrive at Homer Bailey. The 33-year-old finished the 2019 season with a 4.57 ERA in 163.1 innings over 31 starts for the Royals and Athletics. That was by far his best ERA of the past five years, as he was in the 5-to-6 range in ERA in each season from 2015 through 2018, though several of those seasons were significantly shortened by injury.
Michael Wacha is still just 28 years old despite feeling like he’s been around forever, but he threw just 126.2 innings with a 4.66 ERA and 5.53 FIP as a starter for the Cardinals this year. He has a 3.91 ERA and 3.96 FIP for his career, but he’s rarely eclipsed 150 innings pitched in a single season.
The soon-to-be 33-year-old Ivan Nova spent the 2019 season with the White Sox and finished with a 4.72 ERA. He had been a lower-4s ERA guy in his previous three seasons and has a career 4.32 ERA and 4.43 FIP.
Andrew Cashner had a 4.83 ERA and 4.87 FIP in 126.2 innings of work as a starting pitcher over the course of 23 starts. He’s 33 years old, and his strongest recent season came in 2017, when he had a 3.40 ERA with the Rangers. But that was the only one of his past five seasons that saw him finish with an ERA under four.
The first of a pair of consecutive Twins pitchers on this list, Kyle Gibson had a 4.89 ERA and 4.26 FIP in 160.0 innings as a starter this year. His 2018 season was easily his best in the big leagues, though, as he threw 196.2 innings with a 3.62 ERA and 4.13 FIP.
Martin Perez, the second of that pair, is a 28-year-old lefty but finished the season with a 4.99 ERA as a starter despite getting off to great start early in the season. He had a 2.95 ERA through his first eleven appearances, eight of which were starts, but he had a 6.29 ERA the rest of the way, exclusively in a starting role.
That leaves us with a bit of a cliffhanger for Part 4, but here’s a hint: The former Cy Young winner has been AA Slack’s top choice for the obvious guy the team would ultimately end up signing this winter.