The Mets attended Jake Arrieta’s recent workout for MLB clubs, and the two sides have had discussions about a potential contract in the weeks since that outing, per SNY’s Andy Martino (Twitter link). Martino notes that there’s no sense a deal is close and adds that lefty James Paxton is also of some interest to the Mets.
Both Arrieta and Paxton are repped by the Boras Corporation, so talks regarding the team’s interest in the pair are largely streamlined. Arrieta and Paxton aren’t free agents at ideal times, but they do represent a couple of the most established arms available on a shrinking market that lost No. 1 option Trevor Bauer to the Dodgers last week. The Mets were finalists for Bauer, and though they’re not going to acquire anyone of his caliber at this stage (barring an unexpected blockbuster trade), they remain on the hunt for starting help.
The Mets’ rotation has undergone a few noteworthy changes already since the offseason started. They brought back Marcus Stroman for the $18.9MM qualifying offer after he sat out all of last year over health concerns. The club also acquired Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland in the Francisco Liriano trade, while it dealt Steven Matz to the Blue Jays and brought in a potential replacement in Joey Lucchesi as part of a three-way swap with the Padres and Pirates.
Stroman, Carrasco, Lucchesi and David Peterson currently look like the favorites to back superstar Jacob deGrom in New York’s rotation when the season opens. If signed, though, Arrieta or Paxton would appear to be in line for a back-end spot. Arrieta’s a former NL Cy Young winner, though the soon-to-be 35-year-old posted a rough 5.08 ERA/4.83 SIERA combination in 44 1/3 innings with the division-rival Phillies last year.
Paxton has frequently dealt with injury issues during what has otherwise been a solid career, and he pitched just 20 1/3 frames as a Yankee in 2020 because of back and arm troubles. When the 32-year-old did take the mound, he limped to a 6.64 ERA and saw his average fastball drop from 95 mph-plus to a little over 92, though Paxton did log a respectable 3.88 SIERA. He also continued to generate strikeouts at a high clip, as his 28.9 percent K rate checked in well above the league average of 23.4.