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Finding free agent starting pitchers for the Mets, Part 1

With Luis Severino in the fold and a clear need for more help in the rotation, here are some of the Mets’ options.

World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers - Game Two Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Mets have added Luis Severino to their rotation on a one-year deal, but the rest of the rotation hardly looks like a finished product at the moment. And while baseball’s offseason is moving at its typical slow pace, some starting pitchers have already inked contracts with other teams. While the specific pitchers might not have been on the Mets’ wish list, they’re all of the market already: Sonny Gray, Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson, Kenta Maeda, Nick Martinez, and Lance Lynn.

The Mets could very well get involved in the trade market for starting pitchers, but let’s take a look at the pitchers who are still available in free agency. We’ll run down the available pitchers on FanGraphs’ list of the top fifty free agents in baseball.

Shohei Ohtani: While he almost certainly won’t pitch during the 2024 season, Ohtani’s capabilities on the mound have been a huge part of the MVP awards he won in two of the past three seasons. Assuming he eventually returns to the pitching side of his two-way role, he has a 3.01 ERA and a 3.31 FIP in 481.2 innings since joining the Angels. It’s worth noting that his single-season workload came in 2022 at just 166.0 innings pitched. And for what it’s worth, Jeff Passan reported that the Mets have shifted their focus to other players after having interest to begin the offseason.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto: There’s no question that Yamamoto is the biggest name on the starting pitching market—even with Blake Snell hitting free agency immediately after winning the National League Cy Young. The 25-year-old’s stats in Japan have been nothing short of excellent, and the Mets have been linked to him throughout the early parts of the posting process. This year, Yamamoto had a 1.16 ERA in 171 innings of work with 9.3 strikeouts and 1.5 walks per nine innings.

Blake Snell: Next week, Snell will turn 31, and the lefty snagged the National League Cy Young award this year thanks to his 2.25 ERA in 180.0 innings of work for the Padres. That was the best mark in the league by a wide enough margin that he earned 28 of the 30 first-place votes for the award. Back in 2018, Snell really broke out in another excellent campaign that saw him take home American League Cy Young honors after putting up a 1.89 ERA in 180.2 innings with the Rays. In between those two great seasons, he wasn’t quite as effective but totaled a 3.85 ERA between 2019 and 2022. His strikeout rates have always been very good for a starting pitcher, but walks were an issue over the three seasons he spent with the Padres, as he totaled a 12.0 percent walk rate during that stretch.

Jordan Montgomery: There figures to be a pretty significant difference in the contracts that the first three players on this list will get when compared to Montgomery, but the soon-to-be 31-year-old lefty has gotten better in each of the past few seasons. Having made his major league debut with the Yankees in 2017, he remained with the organization until he was traded to the Cardinals during the 2022 season. When St. Louis fell out of the playoff race this year, they dealt him to the Texas, and he was excellent both down the stretch and during the Rangers’ World Series run. Over the last two seasons, he had a cumulative 3.34 ERA in 367.0 innings of work.

Eduardo Rodriguez: After spending several seasons with the Red Sox with decent results, Rodriguez hit free agency following the 2021 season and signed with the Tigers. And his 4.05 ERA in 2022 was roughly in line with what he had done in his time with the Red Sox. This year, however, he had a 3.30 ERA in 152.2 innings of work in Detroit, the best single-season mark of his major league career. Another lefty, he’ll turn 31 just as the 2024 season is getting started.