With Jacob deGrom having officially signed a five-year deal with the Texas Rangers, the Mets’ need for starting pitching is even more obvious than it was when the offseason began. At the moment, the team’s rotation would include Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco, presumably followed up by the likes of David Peterson, Tylor Megill, and Elieser Hernández.
As has been the case in our series on free agent relievers, we’ll follow a similar format here, running down the available options by their 2022 fWAR. It’s an imperfect metric, but it works for this sort of thing, and Japanese pitchers Koudai Senga and Shintaro Fujinami will be included despite not having played in MLB yet in their careers.
Carlos Rodón, LHP: Having finished the 2022 season with 6.2 fWAR, Rodón very slightly takes the top spot on this list. The soon-to-be 30-year-old put up a very good season in his last year with the White Sox in 2021 and signed a two-year deal with the Giants that included an opt-out clause if he threw at least 110 innings for them this year. He did that and more, putting up a 2.88 ERA and a 2.25 FIP in 178.0 innings of work, and with that, he opted out. Health is the biggest concern when it comes to Rodón, as his innings total this year was the highest of any single season of his career and only the second time he had thrown more than 140 innings.
Justin Verlander, RHP: The American League Cy Young winner this year, Verlander is set to turn 40 shortly before spring training gets underway. Like Rodón, he opted out following an excellent season this year, one that saw him finish with a 1.75 ERA, a 2.49 FIP, and 6.1 fWAR in 175.0 innings. Having been a very durable pitcher throughout most of his major league career, he was diagnosed with a forearm strain early in the shortened 2020 season and wound up needing Tommy John surgery and missing the rest of that season and all of 2021.
José Quintana, LHP: Between 2017 and 2021, Quintana totaled a 4.51 ERA for the White Sox, Cubs, Angels, and Dodgers. But this year, in his age-33 season, he put together a 3.50 ERA in 20 starts for the Pirates, who proceeded to trade him to the Cardinals. From there, he had a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts the rest of the way, giving him a 2.93 ERA on the season with a 2.99 FIP and 4.0 fWAR in 165.2 innings. Clearly the expectations for his future production aren’t on the same level as the two pitchers above him on this list, but the Mets will need several starting pitchers, not just one to replace deGrom.