Mets still in preliminary discussions for pitching

Joe Saunders 1 polaroidThe Mets are still in preliminary discussions with their pitching targets, according to Marc Carig of Newsday.

Carig says the Mets are waiting for the market to develop for both starters and relievers as they, “look to be in good position to take advantage as they remain focused on adding a back-end starting pitcher and veteran help in the bullpen.”

The Mets have reportedly been linked to free agents Shaun MarcumCarl PavanoChris YoungJoe Saunders, as well as a possible trade with the Dodgers for either Chris Capuano or Aaron Harang.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Saunders, Marcum and Harang offer the most consistent track records, and therefore would be the safest bets for the Mets to take in their rotation. None of them are aces and Harang would come at a cost of both money and players in trade, but any one of the three would be very strong fifth starters in an already improving rotation.

Harang and Marcum are very similar pitchers – both pitch to contact but they throw strikes which helps them remain effective. They don’t strikeout many hitters, but they limit their walks and do a pretty good job of keeping the ball in the park. Marcum is coming off an elbow injury which cost him two months in the middle of last season, and pitched to a 4.32 ERA in eight starts after coming back. But he was on his way to another good year and could have easily had double digit wins for the fourth time in five years if not for his stint on the disabled list.

In regards to Saunders, he doesn’t have great stuff but he’s proven to be a durable and steady left handed pitcher over the course of his career. Saunders missed a month in 2012 due to shoulder stiffness and was inconsistent upon his return before finishing strong in September with the Orioles. He usually sits in the upper 80s to low 90s with his fastball and off-sets that with a good tailing change-up. He pitches to contact and gives up a lot of home runs, but pitching in more pitcher-friendly parks – such as Citi Field and the rest of the parks in the NL East – would probably reduce that number.

Statistics and information on these pitchers...

Carl Pavano

Stats: Pavano, who turns 37 in January, went 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA in only 11 starts in 2012, allowing 80 hits with eight walks and nine home runs in 63 innings. He missed most of the season with a bone spur in his right humerus bone.

Contract: Pavano just completed a two-year, $16.5 million contract he signed with the Twins before the 2011 season.

Shaun Marcum

Stats: Marcum, 31, went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts for the Brewers in 2012, having allowed 116 hits, 41 walks and 16 home runs in 124 innings. He missed two months with an elbow injury.

Contract: Marcum just completed a one-year $7.7 million contract he signed before the 2012 season.

Chris Capuano

Stats: Capuano, 34, went 12-12 with a 3.72 ERA in 33 starts for the Dodgers in 2012, allowing 188 hits, 54 walks and 25 home runs in 198 innings.

Contract: Capuano just completed the first year of a two-year, $10 million contract he signed with the Dodgers before the 2012 season. He will earn $6 million in 2013 and there is an $8 million mutual option for 2014 with a $1 million buyout.

Aaron Harang

Stats: Harang, 34, went 10-10 with a 3.61 ERA in 31 starts for the Dodgers in 2012, allowing 167 hits, 85 walks and 14 home runs in 179 2/3 innings.

Contract: Harang just completed the first year of a two-year, $12 million contract he signed with the Dodgers before the 2012 season. He will earn $7 million in 2013 and there is an $7-8 million mutual option for 2014 with a $2 million buyout.

Chris Young

Stats: Young, 33, went 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 115 innings over 20 starts for the Mets in 2012.

Contract: Young signed a Minor League contract with the Mets last March, and had his contract purchased by the Mets in June.