SAN DIEGO — The Mets did not add any players on the second day of the winter meetings, although general manager Billy Eppler said he would like to. A day after landing a big fish in Justin Verlander, the Mets continued to monitor the mid-level starting pitcher market in an attempt to find another arm to add to the starting rotation.
Right-hander Andrew Heaney is off the board, going to the Texas Rangers on a two-year deal for join Jacob deGrom. The Mets have had some interest in Heaney since the start of free agency, but it’s never been much. Former Mets starter Taijuan Walker is expected to go to the Philadelphia Phillies.
What we can take away from these trades is that the market for these secondary starters is heating up now that some of the biggest free agent weapons have already settled their situations.
“There has been movement there and it will probably continue,” Eppler said. “It’s something we pay close attention to.”
The Mets currently have Max Scherzer, Verlander and Carlos Carrasco lined up. They can fill out the rest of the rotation with Tylor Megill, David Peterson and/or Joey Lucchesi, but would like to add more depth and be able to use Peterson and Lucchesi out of the bullpen or as the No. 1 starter. 6, if necessary. .
Eppler said he still sees Megill as the starter, but continued to stress the depth. Manager Buck Showalter said the Mets’ rotation is “getting there.”
One possible option is Japanese chain Kodai Senga. The Mets met with him in November and Showalter was impressed by the meeting. His agent, Joel Wolfe, told reporters the right-hander already has five multi-year offers on the table, though he did not specify which teams. The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks pitcher is generally considered one of the best pitchers in Nippon Professional Baseball and is looking to come to North America to play for a big-market contender.
The Mets, of course, fit the bill.
Senga will turn 30 next season and throws in the 90s.
“I like him,” Showalter said. “It’s hard to draft these guys, you know? But you always think about the launch task every fifth day compared to the other. But they said that about some very good Japanese pitchers who came here and did well. He is a good one. I spoke to him and he is impressive. We see why they think so highly of him.”
Between the two of them, Showalter and Eppler have a lot of experience managing and scouting Japanese players. Eppler convinced Shohei Ohtani to sign with the Los Angeles Angels, and Showalter consulted Koji Uehara, whom he managed with the Baltimore Orioles.
When it comes to Senga, the question is whether or not he can handle a North American workload of pitching once every five days, as opposed to once a week in Japan, and what kind of deadline he should be given.
“They pitch maybe once a week,” Showalter said. “Now, they’re throwing 140-150 pitches into that thing once a week, so you can cut that down to 90-100 and have them pitch every fifth day? OK, what if you’re wrong? That’s the thing you always think about.”
The Mets are also looking for some potential bullpen additions and are keeping an eye on the position player market. The team continues to have “dialogue” with Brandon Nimmo and his agent, Scott Boras.