The quickest way for the Mets to transform themselves into contenders into 2019 is by assembling a great pitching staff. Gio Gonzalez can help them do that.
Mets fans might want to see their team make a late move for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but it’s pretty clear that isn’t going to happen. Instead, Brodie Van Wagenen and company remain focused on more modest targets. They shouldn’t let the opportunity to sign Gio Gonzalez pass them by.
Admittedly, the veteran southpaw isn’t a guy who’s going to help the Mets contend for years to come. He’ll turn 34 next season which means age-related decline could begin at any time. Anyone who signs Gonzalez should be wary of giving him anything more than a two-year contract.
However, the fact that he’s still available on February 1st is a clear signal that Gonzalez doesn’t have a ton of leverage. If any team that interested him had offered a decent three or four-year deal he would have signed it on the spot. That gives the Mets a real opportunity to sign him on a short-term contract.
We already know that the Mets’ front office and Gonzalez’s representatives have been in communication this winter. We also know that neither side has gotten “all that close” in terms of years and dollars. Van Wagenen shouldn’t over think this one. Signing Gonzalez to a short-term deal would give his team a really formidable starting rotation in 2019.
The team has already made the somewhat controversial decision to keep both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. If that duo stays healthy, it gives the Mets a great shot to contend in 2019. Having Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz behind them gives the team solid depth as well. It’s very possible Gonzalez could become the team’s fifth starter. He’s more than qualified to fill that role.
Gonzalez wasn’t great last season, but he still posted a respectable ERA of 4.21 in 171 innings pitched. That’s exceptional productivity from a player at the back-end of a rotation. The fact that he pitched his best baseball after moving to the Brewers at the deadline should also encourage New York to aggressively pursue him. His ERA dropped to just 2.13 in five starts for Milwaukee. That’s a small sample size, but it shows that he’s still capable of pitching well when the lights are at their brightest.
At worst, signing Gonzalez to a modest deal would give the Mets another arm they could trade ahead of this year’s deadline if they fall out of contention. The organization definitely wants to contend in 2019, but making contingency plans is always advisable.
Don’t expect the Mets to rush to sign Gonzalez to a big deal, but it’s time for Van Wagenen to pick up the pace. Gonzalez might be the biggest potential bargain available in free agency at the moment. He should be the Mets top priority at the moment.