Acquiring a Starting Pitcher

The Mets will need to acquire at least one starting pitcher this winter regardless of who the next GM is.  The questions are: How much can be spent on such an acquisition?  Can he be acquired in trade, in a deal shipping out an unwanted contract?  What is the status of Johan Santana?

Obviously, I’d love to have Cliff Lee.  Who wouldn’t?  But a) most people in baseball seem to think he’ll either sign in the Bronx or stay in Texas, and b) based on those two teams in the bidding, he’ll likely end up with at least a six-year deal, and I’m  not sure that is the best course of action for the Mets, their needs and where they’re headed… even I do believe the team intends to spend more money on acquisitions, while also ditching old contracts, more so than is being reported.

Nevertheless, regardless of budget, I think I’d prefer the Mets act fast and be creative, such as signing an inexpensive, in-less-demand, fly-ball pitcher, like an Aaron Harang, Bruce Chen or Kevin Millwood, or dare I say Javier Vazquez, to take advantage of Citi Field., as opposed to flocking to the obvious and getting bogged down in a restrictive and harmful bidding war.

Ted Lilly fit the Mets and Citi Field perfectly, but he just re-signed with the Dodgers, agreeing last week to a three-year, $33 million deal.

Speaking of young fly-ball pitchers, the early buzz in Tampa Bay is that, while the Rays will talk to teams about Matt Garza, based on what happens with their own free agents, and instead of selling low, they could instead look to deal him during or after 2011.

In either case, the Rays expect Garza to earn around $5 million in his first year of arbitration this off season.  I have no idea what Tampa will want for Garza, but I hope the next GM finds out.  Garza could be worth an aggressive move, considering his age, contract and approach, in Citi Field and in the National League.

To read about 5 free-agent starting pitchers who could benefit from switching leagues, read this post from Luke Adams on MLB Trade Rumors.