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Finding starting pitching for the Mets among non-tendered players

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With the Mets still needing starting pitching, let’s look at the new free agents on the market.

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

With the Mets still in need of starting pitching, there are a few new options out there on the market now thanks to the fact that those players were non-tendered by their now-former teams. The group is underwhelming overall, and if the Mets intend to be competitive in 2021, they shouldn’t consider any of these newly available pitchers to be part of their planned Opening Day rotation.

Since the beginning of the 2019 season, Ariel Jurado—who the Mets themselves non-tendered—has a 1.0 fWAR that sits atop the list. It’s a generous mark since Jurado has a 5.98 ERA and 5.11 FIP with the volume of his work—126.1 innings—presumably beefing up that number. His -0.4 bWAR is a much better descriptor of his work, and the Mets non-tendered him with good reason.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The most intriguing name on the list is probably Carlos Rodón, who was once a top prospect and has shown flashes of being pretty good at the major league level. His best single season came in his rookie year in 2015, as he finished with a 3.75 ERA and 4.87 FIP. In the three seasons that followed, he had an ERA just north of four, which isn’t great but also isn’t terrible.

The big concern here is that Rodón has dealt with shoulder issues, which have limited both his playing time and his effectiveness over the past couple of years. In just 34.2 innings in 2019, he had a 5.19 ERA, and he got rocked in 7.2 innings of work over four appearances in the shortened 2020 season. Whether or not the 27-year-old’s shoulder will ever be fully effective is unknown, but he could be worth seeing in spring training and perhaps the upper minors to start next season.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Miami Marlins Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The most familiar name in this group for Mets fans is José Ureña, who has spent the entirety of his major league career with the Marlins. His best seasons to date were the 2017 and 2018 seasons, over which he had a cumulative 3.90 ERA and 4.68 FIP. Despite throwing a fastball that averages 95-to-96 miles per hour, Ureña has simply never been much of a strikeout pitcher, with K rates sitting well below league average for a starting pitcher.

Since the beginning of the 2019 season, Ureña has a 5.25 ERA and 5.02 FIP in 108.0 innings of work, which is hardly encouraging. And if you’re looking for more downsides, he has a history of hitting opposing batters at a pretty high clip and has a history with Ronald Acuña Jr. of the division rival Braves, who committed the offense of doing very well against him.

The rest of the non-tendered group—Tyler Anderson, Jefry Rodriguez, Chi Chi Gonzalez, and Foster Griffin—doesn’t have much in the way of past major league success or standout underlying metrics.

As has been the case with the series on free agent starting pitching, the depths of the market should be considered depth option for the Mets. The team still needs to add at least two major league starting pitchers to its rotation. Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman make for a very good top of the rotation, and David Peterson was good in his rookie campaign this year. Ideally, though, neither Peterson nor Steven Matz—who the Mets retained ahead of the non-tender deadline—should be going into spring training with a guaranteed spot in the rotation.