Why Sean Manaea is a Perfect Fit for the Mets
I did not take a long look at the starting pitcher market when I devised my ‘Mets Offseason Plan’ because I did not think it was a route of priority. The signing of Luis Severino (1 year/ $13 million) and the report that the Mets will continue pursuing some other starting pitchers got me thinking. Who are other fits and why should the Mets spend time going after them? Sean Manaea is really the one and only player that stuck out to me. I will explain soon, but let's explore the context of this Mets roster first. We already have an influx of back end rotation guys and lack frontline starters. Senga is the only frontline starter on roster and our backend personnel consists of LHPs Jose Quintana, Joey Lucchesi, David Peterson (injured, back in June) and RHPs Jose Butto, Tylor Megill and now Luis Severino.
The Mets can absolutely sign another backend starter to complete the rotation given they acquire a top starting pitcher like Yamamoto, Glasnow, Cease, Burnes, etc. Calling the aforementioned guys “Ace”, a rotation would look like “Ace”, Senga, Quintana, Severino, To Be Signed Starter. It still isn’t pretty but I really like the way Butto progressed at the end of 2023 and wouldn’t want to push him out of the rotation. Megill is primed for a bounce back and Peterson pitched well after returning from the pitching lab. So this begs the question, why do the Mets feel that they need to go after comparable or slightly better pitchers for far more money instead of filling other pressing needs? I cannot answer that question and frankly I am asking it myself, but I digress.
Sean Manaea can be the answer to this question. Among the remaining free agent starting pitchers this offseason, Manaea is one of three notable pitchers (Martin Perez, Alex Wood) that really split time between the bullpen and starting rotation. Of those three, Manaea was the only one that showed he could be reliable as both a starter and reliever. Manaea made very beneficial adjustments for the second half of the season and pitched well down the stretch. He provides valuable versatility to a staff in limbo.
Manaea declined his $12.5 million player option this year. I think a one or two year deal with an AAV around $14 million would be a good sign for the Mets. Depending on the state of Manaea’s market, a club option with a $2 million buyout could be an encouraging incentive, giving him 1 year/ $16 million guaranteed with the Mets.
While the Mets are continuing to spend on starters, they might as well make the best-perceived decisions, and Sean Manaea is one of them. He becomes a great swingman option for the Mets, along with Butto and Megill. They can all pitch out of the bullpen (while continuing development) if there are injuries or other acquisitions.
I prefer to have a five-man rotation and really do not want six-man rotations. Manaea fills the “fifth starter” slot but allows for a potential revolving door between Butto and Megill, mainly while still having Lucchesi as depth. I’m not gung-ho on signing another starter, but if they do, Manaea needs to be the guy.
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