Noah Syndergaard’s injury was a crushing blow to the rotation for an already-struggling Mets club, and general manager Sandy Alderson acknowledged yesterday that he’ll be on the lookout for outside rotation help. As Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News writes, Alderson offered the following stance on the matter:
“We have looked at that possibility, I would say yes, that this probably accelerates that process. I think we have to be realistic about what may be out there. As I said before there are some pitchers may be available who have not been pitching, would require a certain amount of time to ramp up and may not be available to us until about the time [Steven] Matz and [Seth] Lugo are possibly back, but there may be some other possibilities.”
As Alderson suggests, the situation isn’t quite as simple as it would be in the event of an offseason or Spring Training injury. Free agents like Doug Fister, Colby Lewis, Jake Peavy, Tim Lincecum and John Danks are all unsigned, but any of those veterans would have to ramp up to the point where he is able to take the mound in a Major League game. With the Mets tentatively hoping that Matz and Lugo will be back in a month, adding one of those arms might not offer a closer timeline to a rotation augment than waiting out their internal options. Of course, adding the depth for the remainder of the season wouldn’t hurt, especially considering the fact that Zack Wheeler is on an innings limit after missing the 2015-16 seasons due to Tommy John surgery.
On the free-agent front, it doesn’t seem that a match with Lewis is especially likely. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted last night that the Mets had interest in the longtime Rangers hurler in the offseason, but Sherman adds that Lewis’ agent now tells him that the right-hander isn’t interested in joining the Mets at this point. The Mets did watch Doug Fister last month, but no deal materialized following that workout.
Looking around the league, there aren’t many obvious trade candidates this early in the season. One very logical depth option, in my view, would be to swing a deal for left-hander Tommy Milone, who was designated for assignment by the Brewers yesterday. Milwaukee also probably wouldn’t mind getting out from some of the remaining money on Matt Garza’s contract.
Speculating a bit further, it’s possible that a definitively rebuilding club like the Padres wouldn’t be as reluctant as most teams to part with a starter in early May. (The Braves, for instance, traded Jhoulys Chacin to the Angels around this time last year when the Halos were similarly devastated by rotation injuries.) However, any of Padres’ offseason signees — Chacin, Jered Weaver, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill — would have to consent to a trade prior to June 15, and Chacin and Weaver have each struggled quite a bit.
Generally speaking, early May is a difficult time to be seeking any type of meaningful upgrade on the trade market. Even teams like the Royals, Blue Jays and Giants — each with a .370 winning percentage or worse — are reportedly still looking to right the ship rather than market veteran players in trades.