Free Agency is a dangerous beast. It appears tantalizing at first, and often draws reluctant GM’s (and quite a few eager ones) into it’s maw.
Often the contracts offered pay off, but some don’t, and the most dangerous ones, the long term ones, usually feature late 20’s early 30’s players who often have faded by the end of their contracts. (There are exceptions of course, like Kershaw, Trout, Heyward, etc, but there’s an exception to everything)
So I can understand why Mo was reluctant to wade into the Free Agency waters. (He did, from all accounts make a nce offer for Heyward, as has already been covered, so there’s that.)
But where does that leave us now?
Mo is happy to grow from within. He has made Free Agency signings in the past, don’t get me wrong, but often on gambles (4 years, 53 million for Jhonny Peralta in a smartly front loaded deal, or Pat Neshek last year)
With Heyward gone, the assumption was that we would wade into the aforementioned Free Agency waters for some starting pitching. After all, we lost John Lackey in addition to Heyward, and both went to the same division rival (Chicago) who many are now deeming next years World Series favorite (yes I know World Series’ are not won in December, but that’s not the point of this post.)
I realize playing “match the other teams’ moves” can be a dangerous game. It can deplete a farm, force us to make trades for players that don’t really fit. But Mo is smart when he makes moves, and usually acquires someone that fits without costing us too much. There are exceptions of course, but that’s another post.
Back to pitching. We have some good kids in the system, and are getting Adam Wainwright back, so many feel we didn’t really need to make a move. But last year, Lackey was our best pitcher, so this year replacing him with Wainwright (and I’m only focusing on 2016 here. Yes, Waino is probably better in the long run, but again, another post.) may not be an upgrade. Before you spam me about that sentence: remember, 2016.
Maybe Lackey got lucky in 2015, who knows. But if we’re replacing one ace with another, that means we’d need to upgrade other pitching spots…And we lost Lance Lynn for the season. So that’s two starters gone. One has been replaced, but the other hasn’t. Yes, there’s the kids, there’s always the kids, but we’ve used a few of those chips up and some are getting older and haven’t quite proven themselves as more than swingmen. Tyler Lyons, for example, is 27, and has been on the team each of the past three years, and has started 8,4,8 games respectively in those years. His 3.75 ERA last year was his best yet.
Marco Gonzales is only 22, so he’s more of a bright spot. But is he ready at 22 to be a full time starter, or at least share the role of one and make 15 to 20 starts? He struggled in the minors last year, so I’m not sure.
Alex Reyes is a long way off, and is dealing with some issues, so no help there.
Carlos Martinex comes back, and he had a solid season before getting injured. Will he make it the full season? And is it fair expect a ton out of him is only his second full season as a starter. He’s still only 24 as of this post. Seems like he’s been around longer than he has, true, but still.
Michael Wacha struggled…can he bounce back?
You get the point. The rotation has question marks, and so far, they haven’t really been answered.
What next Mo?
As always, thanks for reading.