PORT ST. LUCIE – Steven Matz could be guaranteed a rotating job in New York after all this spring.
With the sudden shortage of starting the launch, the Yankees contacted the Mets about Matz’s potential availability, according to industry sources. The Mets are willing to listen, but there is skepticism that the impetus for an agreement will build this early in the calendar.
A void exists in the rotation of the Yankees with Luis Severino finished for the season after undergoing the intervention of Tommy John. The Yankees are also without James Paxton, who will be sidelined at least until May after undergoing back surgery. A third starter, Domingo German, has 63 games left on a 81-game suspension after violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.
The Mets are among the few baseball teams with a veteran depth of rotation, following an offseason in which general manager Brodie Van Wagenen added free agents Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. These purchases left Matz to compete for a spin position in spring training.
Among the reasons for the skepticism that an agreement can be reached is that the Mets seek in return a position player ready for the Major League, contrary to the prospects. Miguel Andujar, given his ability to play multiple positions, would probably be a player of interest to the Mets. The belief is that the Yankees are not desperate enough to allow a pitcher to separate from Andujar.
And then there’s the fact that the Mets and Yankees have avoided conducting meaningful business with each other for nearly two decades. The two teams were close to an agreement to the 2017 commercial deadline that would send Jay Bruce to the Yankees, but the proposal ran out at the last minute, with both sides blaming the other.
Matz went 11-10 with an ERA 4.21 in a swing season 2019 in which he was briefly sent to the bullpen. Among the options that the Mets have discussed is Matz who shares a point in the rotation with Wacha based on the opponent or uses a can opener like Seth Lugo in front of his left arm.
The danger in Matz’s trade, especially so early, would be to suffer a rotation injury that would leave the Mets to scramble. Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt are among the pitchers of the field with experience of starting the Major League, but neither of them has stood out in the last season. Former first-round selector David Peterson is impressing team officials during spring training, but his left arm has not yet gone above the double-A level.
Lugo could be the depth of rotation, but until the Mets have a better idea of how their bullpen materialized, they are hesitant to consider the right arm as anything but a relief. If the Mets are happy with the level at which Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson perform as the season progresses, it could leave them less reluctant to trade Matz, as Lugo could become depth of rotation.