Do the Mets have the pitching depth to tangle with “The Evil Empire?” Will they even make the playoffs? We shopped the futures market to find out.
The 2020 battle between the Big Apple’s two MLB teams has gotten off to a subdued start this offseason. Yes, the New York Yankees grabbed headlines in December by signing top free agent pitcher, Gerrit Cole to a $324 million deal. They also re-signed veteran outfielder Brett Gardner to a one-year $12.5 million pact. Beyond that, though, the “Evil Empire” has been content to sit tight — apparently relying on better health among their existing roster to improve on a stellar 103-59 record in what was an injury-ravaged 2019 season. Meanwhile, they have watched as shortstop Didi Gregorius signed with the Phillies, DH Edwin Encarnacion signed with the White Sox, and reliever Dellin Betances signed with the New York Mets.
That last loss has been the biggest offseason acquisition by the Mets. But not their only one. Indeed, it’s part of what appears to be a pitching-themed approach by New York’s NL squad to making the playoffs in 2020, after they went 86-76 in 2019. GM Brodie Van Wagenen also signed starter Rick Porcello for one year at $10 million, and starter Michael Wacha for one year at $3 million. Those short-term moves help to counter the loss of starter Zack Wheeler to the Phillies. Moreover, they give the Mets pitching depth that could potentially carry them to the playoffs.
I say “potentially,” because those new pitchers need to perform better than their 2019 showings to have actual impact. Porcello was worth just 1.2 WAR in 32 starts for the Red Sox in 2019, after posting 3.1 WAR in 33 starts during 2018. Wacha was worth 0.2 WAR in 24 starts for the Cardinals in 2019, after posting 0.8 WAR in 15 starts during 2018. Finally, Betances pitched only one game in 2019 due to injury. However, the 4.3 WAR he posted over his previous three seasons with the Yankees was a significant downgrade from his 7.5 WAR across 2014-15.
Those three join a Mets pitching corps led by back-to-back CY Young winner, Jacob deGrom. In 32 starts, the staff ace built 7.3 WAR, after accounting for 9.6 WAR during 32 starts in 2018. At the opposite end of the spectrum is last offseason’s top pitching addition, Edwin Diaz. In 66 games, the now-former-closer built a -0.6 WAR in 2019. He accumulated 26 saves, while posting a 5.59 ERA. This, after a 2018 season where he was worth 3.2 WAR, while saving 57 games for the Mariners. His main setup man in 2019 was Jeurys Familia, who compiled a lowly -0.4 WAR. So, between Betances’ signing, and last season’s closing duo being so bad, the Mets bullpen has nowhere to go but up.
The rest of the Mets rotation is currently rounded out by a trio of returning solid-but-not-spectacular starters. Noah Syndergaard compiled 2.3 WAR in 2019, Marcus Stroman had 4.4 WAR between Toronto and New York, and Steven Matz had 1.9 WAR as a fourth starter. So, what does this rotation depth translate to for the 2020 MLB futures market?
The MLB Futures Fallout:
Before all these pitching upgrades, Pointsbet had the over/under for New York’s regular season wins at 86.5. As of this writing, that number has held. This reflects Porcello and Wacha being viewed as a tandem replacement for Wheeler’s lost production. It also means that Betances isn’t viewed as having an outsized impact on the Mets bullpen by himself.
Before signing their trio of free agent pitchers, PB gave the Mets a +300 payout to win the NL East. They also received a +1200 payout to win the NL pennant. Afterward, those numbers moved slightly to +275 for the NL East, and +1000 for the NL pennant. That +275 NL East payout is the same as the Washington Nationals, but trails the +175 of the Atlanta Braves. The Phillies are slightly behind at +300, while the Miami Marlins are at (no joke) +15000. Additionally, PB has New York at +2000 to win the World Series.
Elsewhere, Draftkings gives the Mets a +2000 payout to win the World Series. Division rivals Atlanta (+1200), Washington (+1400), Philadelphia (+1800) are favored ahead of them. Meanwhile, both Borgata Online and BetMGM give the Mets a +1800 payout to win the 2020 title. Draftkings also has New York at +1000 to win the NL pennant, with the LA Dodgers the favorites at +220.
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