Brown: Mets Made Big Mistake Not Signing Gio Gonzalez

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There aren't many, if any teams that know injuries quite like the New York Mets. It seems every year they get hit with the injury bug from the top of the roster to the bottom. The season hasn't even started yet and they already are without infielders Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie. Reliever Drew Smith is out for the season as he gets Tommy John Surgery. It's just another year of guys dropping like flies.

With that being said, GM Brodie Van Wagenen has addressed the Mets past issues of depth pretty well this offseason for the most part. He could have really put the icing on the cake though by signing starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez. For a team that focused so much on the depth chart and having serviceable backups when guys go down, it's mind blowing that the Mets weren't in on signing Gonzalez. Missing out on the southpaw was a big mistake and a missed opportunity by the Mets. 

Instead, Gonzalez signed with the Yankees Tuesday. It first came out as a $3 million deal if he's in the majors, but then reports came out that it does have a heavy set of incenvitves. Gonzalez would earn $300K with every MLB start and it could reach up to $12 million for the season. That would mean he made 30 starts, which in all likelihood isn't going to happen, especially considering the fact he's just getting into spring training this week and the season starts next week. Even with those incentives, it makes plenty of sense for the Mets to have signed him to the same deal. You could also use him as a long man and avoid those incentives.

The Mets aren't completely out of the running for Gonzalez yet though. He does have the option to opt-out of his contract on April 20 if he doesn't reach the majors. If he's not on the Yankees roster by then, the Mets could have the chance to sign him on April 21. 

Yes, the Mets starting rotation is set with: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Wheeler, Steven Matz and Jason Vargas...but why stop there? After deGrom, there's going to always be question marks. Syndergaard wasn't able to stay healthy and was inconsistent at times. Wheeler avoided getting hurt for just a second time in the four years he actually has been on the field. He missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons. Speaking of injuries, Steven Matz avoided the DL for the first time in his career last season. He was also inconsistent, finishing 5-11 with a 3.97 ERA. Vargas was an abomination when he came back from injury in the first half of the season. He was much better in the second half, but still finished the season 7-9 with a 5.77 ERA in 20 starts. 

What about that rotation makes you THAT confident that they will be just fine in 2019? You can never have too much pitching. There isn't a ton of pitching help in the minors and Seth Lugo is really the only guy right now out of the bullpen that you could feel confident coming into the rotation if somebody gets hurt. You can take the 'if' out of it. Someone will get hurt at some point this season, because it happens every single year. Having Lugo come is fine and dandy, but then you're losing one of your best middle relievers and long men out of the bullpen. 

The 33-year-old Gonzalez has been exactly what the Mets haven't had...a guy who isn't injury prone. In fact, he's NEVER had an arm or shoulder injury. From 2010-2018, Gonzalez has made less than 31 starts just one time. That was in 2014, where he still started 27 games. He's consistently been out there every five days. That's exactly the kind of guy the Mets need that they can rely on to stay on the field and help their pitching staff and take some of the young arms under his wing. Gonzalez has a very respectable 127-97 career record with a 3.69 ERA. He's also been to the postseason five times, making eight starts. 

On top of all that, the lefty has been sensational at Citi Field in his career. Get this...he's 11-2 with a 1.75 ERA in 17 career starts at Citi Field. That's deGrom-esque numbers for a guy they couldn't dish out a couple million bucks to for just one year. You could even use him as a spot starter when you want and throw him out there when they are home in Queens and expect him to do well. Sure, a lot of those games may have come against a weak Mets offense, but major leaguers are major leaguers. His career success and longevity speak for itself. 

We all know the Mets were not and are not going to get Dallas Keuchel. If this $3 million plus incentives deal was too much for them, there isn't a chance they spend $10-plus million and potentially for multiple years for Keuchel, even though it would be a terrific move. It's just not realistic and would shock the world. Gonzalez was very realistic, and the Mets dropped the ball. In 162-game season and especially in the National League, you can never have too much pitching. When one of the five Mets starters go down, the front office will regret not adding Gonzalez into the fold. 

It would have been a tremendous depth move to give the Mets one of the best five-man rotations in baseball, Instead, they will hope and pray these five guys stay healthy and Vargas pitches like he did late in the season, which still turned out to be a guy that wouldn't get past five innings. Van Wagenen did a nice job bringing in depth signings to the infield, outfield and back end of the bullpen, but boy did he strike out with missing out on this one and not adding help to the rotation. It could be the difference between the Mets making or missing the playoffs...

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