To date, sources aware of the situation say the Braves have so far been more aggressive than the Mets when it comes to signing free-agent RHP Zack Wheeler.
It's their contention the Mets are more likely to let Wheeler walk and instead sign a reliable, consistent, veteran starting pitcher to join their rotation.
MLB people I know all expect Wheeler to field multiple offers of five years and $100 million.
If Wheeler will give a hometown discount to stay in Queens and play it safe, I can see him and the Mets finding common ground with, say, a four-year, $70 million deal. However, if Wheeler wants top dollar, I expect he'll be using the away team's clubhouse next time he plays at Citi Field.
That said, if Brodie Van Wagenen is truly looking for a veteran, reliable, consistent starting pitcher that is likely to accept a one- or two-year deal, the following four candidates should be on his list...
If for no other reason than to make Ted Berg smile, the Mets should sign Hamels, who insiders predict will eventually sign a two-year contract for at least $20 million. Reuniting with the Phillies or joining the rival Nationals or Braves seems to be a more likely outcome, though.
Nevertheless, he has thrown more than 140 innings every season since 2006. Unfortunately, he's throwing fewer and fewer innings each start. When on the mound, though, his performance has been super steady.
I just can't get away from him averaging 5.2 innings, though. And, while he's known for making double digit starts every year of his career, the fact that he was shut down due to shoulder fatigue at the end of last season makes it seem like he's ripe for a breakdown.
Steamer projections for 2020 have him producing 2.2 WAR and tossing his typical 170 innings. However, if his age and that shoulder issue result in him missing several starts for the first time in his career, that will erase the entire point of signing him.
I'd leave this one up to my statistics and baseball systems department. If they see evidence he has another year or two in him, I'd make him a competitive pitch.
Otherwise, let him go to one of the other NL East teams.
Insiders predict he'll end up taking the most money for one year in hopes of rebuilding his value and tackling the free agent market again next winter. This feels right in line with what the Mets are said to have in mind for this spot on the roster.
What's more, at 32 years old, Porcello has started at least 28 games during each of the past nine seasons, during which he's made 281 starts, which trails only Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Jon Lester.
Since winning the Cy Young Award in 2015, he's consistently been a two-WAR starting pitcher.
Along those lines, FanGraphs' Steamer projections for 2020 have him again producing just shy of 2.0 WAR and tossing more than 180 innings, which would be the perfect addition to a rotation that includes Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.
I'm slightly concerned with his fly-ball and home run rates, but it's also possible these numbers will be helped by going from Boston and Fenway in the American League to Citi Field in the National League.
Among this class of pitchers, Porcello is my top choice. He is the definition of an affordable, low-commitment, reliable, consistent, veteran starting pitcher.
Insiders predict he'll get multiple one- to two-year offers worth around $10 million a season.
He has thrown at least 165 innings three of the previous four seasons. This is encouraging, though it's worth noting he's thrown fewer and fewer innings each of those four years.
Roark returned to giving up a ton of home runs toward the end of the 2019 season, which is something that plagued him early in his career with the Nationals. Nevertheless, at 1.5 WAR and 174 innings, which is what FanGraphs projects for his 2020, he'd fit in fine for the Mets as a fifth starter.
Roark is intriguing, but I'd much prefer Porcello or Hamels.
The 33-year-old Nova, who spent 2019 with the White Sox, has made the 13th-most starts in baseball during the past four seasons. He also has the league's third-best walk rate during the same time frame. This is important because he also has the third-worst strikeout rate and gives up a lot of home runs.
He's the perfect signing for a team like the Mets that may be looking for a lot of cheap innings and the potential for an unexpected hot streak.
There have so far been several teams rumored to have interest in Nova, including the Marlins, who this season are required by the CBA to increase payroll.
The Steamer projections for 2020 have him producing 1.1 WAR, but for some reason only tossing 138 innings, which would be his lowest total since 2015.
He's a good fit for the Mets and I'd take him if nothing else materializes by the end of the winter. However, I think Van Wagenen can spend more and has a legit shot at signing someone better.