November 10th, 2022
NEW YORK — The Mets looked inward in their search for rotation depth on Thursday, exercising the $14 million club option on Carlos Carrasco’s contract for the 2023 season.
Although Carrasco is coming off a relative down year in which he produced a 3.97 ERA in 29 starts, he still managed to finish third on the team with 152 innings. That alone gave the Mets significant reason to bring back Carrasco, considering their lack of starting pitching depth entering the offseason. The team’s current rotation consists of Max Scherzer, Carrasco, David Peterson and Tylor Megill, with others expected to join that group through free agency or trades.
Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker all recently exercised their rights to become free agents, removing three-fifths of the team’s regular 2022 rotation from the roster.
Carrasco, 35, has endured a rocky tenure since the Mets acquired him in the Jan. 7, 2021 trade with the Guardians that also brought shortstop Francisco Lindor to Flushing. That season, Carrasco made only 12 starts as he battled significant hamstring and elbow injuries. Offseason surgery solved the latter issue for Carrasco, but he proved inconsistent throughout the following season. Over his final three starts of 2022, Carrasco produced a 7.36 ERA, which resulted in the Mets not including him on their National League Wild Card roster. He was a long shot to make the Division Series roster had the Mets advanced.
Still, Carrasco is a proven Major League starter who averaged 171 innings per season from 2014-18 in Cleveland, before a battle with leukemia sidelined him for much of 2019. This year marked a return to full activity for Carrasco following his cancer battle, the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and his injury-plagued 2021. He had a $3 million buyout on his 2023 club option, making the effective cost for the Mets only $11 million.
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“We value him as a starter, like the arsenal of tools, like the presence that he brings on the mound,” general manager Billy Eppler told reporters before departing the GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Thursday. “He’s reliable, and we know he can handle New York. A lot of those elements drove that decision.”
Even after bringing back Carrasco, the Mets intend to acquire multiple additional starting pitchers this winter, with deGrom, Bassitt and Walker all possibilities to return. Top free agents include Carlos Rodón, Justin Verlander and Tyler Anderson, among others; in addition, Eppler has expressed an appetite to explore the trade market.