The Eventual Impact of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard
By Dan Lagnado
By now it is no secret that the Mets have significant depth when it comes to starting pitching. As it shapes up now, the projected rotation to start the season will consist of Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and either Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan (most likely). Matt Harvey has announced via Twitter (@MattHarvey33) that he intends to pitch in 2014. Jeremy Hefner will also be returning from Tommy John Surgery this summer. And we all know that Montero and Syndergaard will be added to the rotation this season as well.
That gives the Mets five more starters than they need. So the question is who’s low on the totem pole and ends up wearing a different jersey in 2015 and who stays to take on other roles?
Let’s assume that Harvey returns to his typical self, following his rehab. He clearly stays in the rotation as the ace. If Wheeler’s development goes as it should and he improves in his first full pro season he will also remain in the rotation. Jon Niese was given a 5-year extension in 2012 and so will be under contract for 3 more seasons. I don’t see him going anywhere as long as he stays mostly healthy. Bartolo Colon was just given a 2-year contract this past offseason. At age 40+ there’s no guarantee he chooses to stay for the second year but if he continues to pitch as he has of late, I can’t see him choosing to retire. Syndergaard and Montero are both considered highly touted prospects. Syndergaard gets more of the hype but Montero will be called up sooner. The rumors are that Syndergaard is untouchable so he’ll be with the team. What does this mean for Rafael Montero? I don’t see the Mets parting with such a big talent. He can easily take Colon’s starting spot when that contract expires or if someone is moved. Jeremy Hefner has shown the ability to come out of the bullpen and pitch well so he might be moved there when he returns. Matsusaka and Lannan most likely will not be sticking around. One of them will either agree to go the minors to start the year or void their contract and the other will be either sent down or released when Montero is called up. Dillon Gee is an interesting case. He pitched pretty well last season and if he pitches as well this year he could be trade bait around the deadline. The Mets could certainly get a decent prospect in a position of need for Gee and there are always teams looking for quality starting pitching. Jenrry Mejia could also be used as a piece in a trade. He is competing for the 5th starter sport this spring and has shown that he has a lively arm. He’s also still a young, raw talent despite previous arm troubles.
So what are we looking at for 2015? The starting rotation could looks something like this:
- Matt Harvey
- Zack Wheeler
- Bartolo Colon
- Jon Niese
- Noah Syndergaard/Rafael Montero
I can understand some of you might ask, “would the Mets consider trading Niese as well? He’s more of a proven major league talent maybe you could get more for him”. Well it’s possible of course, but in my opinion it’s important to have a lefty in your starting rotation, especially because of how often the Mets have to deal with Ryan Howard, Freddie Freeman and Adam LaRoche.
So there you have it. This is what the Mets must do with an extreme excess of starting pitching in an organization that is just about ready to compete in a top-heavy division.
Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995