Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched six innings of one run ball Monday against the Cardinals, making a loud statement that he should get the final spot in the Mets rotation over Jenrry Mejia. The Mets have a day to decide.
If the Mets want to keep Dice-K but start his season in the minors, they have to pay him a $100,000 retention bonus. Mets Blog reports the deadline for that is noon Tuesday. This almost assures that he will get the starting job; after all, it is no secret that the Mets do not like to spend unnecessary money.
Speaking of money, Matsuzaka will earn $1.5 million if he makes the team. Mejia will only make around $500,000, so that could be a consideration as well. Dice-K can opt out of his contract by June 1 if he is not in the majors.
Mejia made his own case for the big league roster, throwing five strong innings on Sunday, allowing one run. Mejia’s spring ERA is 2.89; Matsuzaka lowered his Monday to a very respectable 3.86.
Mejia probably deserves the job. At this point in their careers, he has far more upside than Daisuke Matsuzaka. However, with Jonathon Niese’s health in question and a 41-year-old “ace,” it probably pays to hold onto as much starting pitching as possible. Leaving Matsuzaka in the rotation with Mejia just a phone call away probably makes sense.
It certainly would be the safe way to go, and Sandy Alderson has shown time and time again that he is not the kind of guy who likes to take chances. Whatever happens, do not be surprised if we see Jenrry Mejia starting for the Mets sooner rather than later this season.