It is no secret that the Mets have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to starting pitching. And it only got better with the emergence of two unexpected sources late last season. So what are the short and long-term outlooks for the rotation?
In the short-term, by all accounts, Zack Wheeler will remain in Florida to do some extra work and lessen his innings. Which means Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman will likely be the fifth starter, with the other one starting the season in the bullpen.
If/when Wheeler is ready, they could simply keep Lugo and Gsellman in the bullpen and for spot starts. Or, if they pitch well, one could be traded to fill a need that might arise as the season progresses.
If a trade does not happen, and Lugo or Gsellman are as effective as they were during the stretch run in 2016, then it gets really interesting in the off-season. Matt Harvey is a free agent after the 2018 season. The Mets could decide they can do without him and deal him for a treasure trove of top prospects (assuming he comes back from his injury) and plug Lugo or Gsellman into his spot.
Let’s face it; if Harvey can pitch like he used to over the next two seasons, he will command a mega-contract. Do the Mets really need to foot that bill, considering they might have six other very competent starters?
Wheeler and Jacob deGrom are not eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season. Syndergaard and Matz can leave after 2021. Add in the cheap Lugo and Gsellman, and the Mets do not have to pay Harvey. Hell, they could decide not to pay anyone and keep developing young starters. I don’t think that will happen, though; I think two huge contracts will be given and right now, deGrom and Syndergaard look to be the recipients. Of course, that could change if Matz can stay healthy and emerge as a star.
The old saying that you can never have too much starting pitching certainly applies to the Mets. What they decide to do with the surplus could define this team for the next decade or so. Commit to all of them, leaving little money for the offense? Trade a couple, and hope and pray they cut the right guys loose?
In the end, money will likely make the decision for the Mets. But whatever happens, this could be the only season in which the dream rotation of Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard and Matz pitches together.