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Let’s find the Mets a starting pitcher, Part 5

Trevor Cahill, Kevin Gausman, and Danny Salazar are featured in this installment.

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

With the winter meetings in progress, the Mets should still be searching for another starting pitcher to fill our their rotation. Whether or not they actually will is another story, but signing a starter would allow them to leave Seth Lugo, easily their best reliever over the past couple of seasons, in the bullpen. And it would prevent the team from heading into the 2020 season with Plan A being Lugo, Robert Gsellman, or Walker Lockett as the fifth starter in an otherwise strong rotation.

If Andy Martino is right that even a pitcher such as Wade Miley could be out of the Mets’ price range, though, the pitchers covered in parts one, two, three, and four of this series exploring the free agent market might all be too expensive, too, which would be pretty pathetic. To put all of those names in one place, well, here you go:

  • Hyun-Jin Ryu
  • Gerrit Cole
  • Stephen Strasburg (signed with Nationals for 7 years, $245 million)
  • Jake Odorizzi (accepted Twins’ qualifying offer)
  • Dallas Keuchel
  • Cole Hamels (signed with Braves for 1 year, $18 million)
  • Julio Teheran
  • Brett Anderson
  • Madison Bumgarner
  • Zack Wheeler (signed with Phillies for 5 years, $118 million)
  • Wade Miley
  • Michael Pineda (signed with Twins for 2 years, $20 million)
  • Jason Vargas
  • Tanner Roark
  • Homer Bailey
  • Michael Wacha
  • Ivan Nova
  • Andrew Cashner
  • Kyle Gibson (signed with Rangers for 3 years, $30 million)
  • Martin Perez
  • Rick Porcello
  • Jhoulys Chacin
  • Matt Moore
  • Rich Hill
  • Gio Gonzalez

The process of churning through the list from Ryu to Chacin was based starting pitchers who threw at least 100 innings in 2019 and ran in order of their ERA for that season. Moore, Hill, and Gonzalez were the top three starters in ERA with no innings minimum, though Moore threw just 10 innings, while Hill threw 58.2 and Gonzalez threw 81.0. And hey, perhaps someone who’s already been mentioned will fall into the Mets’ bargain bin price range.

To continue looking at the Mets’ options, to hell with the ordered process from the previous parts of this series. Based on the list of free agent starting pitchers at MLB Trade Rumors, we’ll pick and choose pitchers of interest who are still available. A note: Gabriel Ynoa appears on that list but is bound for Japan.

Trevor Cahill is heading into his age-32 season and coming off a horrendous 2019 campaign in which he made 11 starts and 26 relief appearances. In total, he threw 102.1 innings, all with the Angels, and had a 5.98 ERA, 6.13 FIP, and a staggering 2.20 home runs allowed per nine innings pitched. He got rocked particularly hard in his starts to the tune of a 6.92 ERA. He fared much better in the 21 appearances he made for the A’s in 2018, only one of which came out of the bullpen, as he finished that season with a 3.76 ERA and 3.54 FIP, albeit in only 110.0 innings of work.

Kevin Gausman had an awful year in 2019, too, as he accumulated a 5.72 ERA and 3.98 FIP in 102.1 innings for the Braves and Reds. He was used exclusively as a starter in Atlanta and had a 6.19 ERA there in 16 appearances before the Reds claimed him off waivers. He made just one start in 15 appearances for Cincinnati and had a 4.03 ERA in his time there. The upside with him, though, is that he was a perfectly acceptable major league starter over the years that preceded 2019, having made at least 30 starts in each season from 2016 through 2018 and had a 4.07 ERA in total over that span. Perhaps the best stretch of his career came after the Braves traded for him in 2018, as he had a 2.87 ERA in ten starts for them down the stretch that year. According to Brooks Baseball, his fastball velocity has been down a slight bit over the past two years when compared to previous seasons, but it certainly hasn’t fallen off a cliff.

And to wrap up this installment of this series, Danny Salazar missed the entire 2018 season and only pitched four innings at the major league level in 2019—and just a handful of innings in the minors—after dealing with shoulder issues that required surgery. He has name recognition because he pitched well in Cleveland, from 2013 through 2017, but durability has never been his strong suit. If he ends up settling for a deal that involves merely an invitation to spring training and lots of incentives if he racks up innings at the major league level, though, it would be better to see the Mets roll the dice on him than do nothing at all.