The Mets will resume Carlos Carrascothe option for 2023, by Newsday’s Tim Healey. He will earn a $14 million salary instead of a $3 million buyout. They will also take their $775,000 option on the reliever John Curtis instead of buying back $70,000, by New York Post’s Mike Puma.
Carrasco, 36 in March, has had his ups and downs over the past few years, with injuries usually contributing to the lower parts. Acquired by the Mets before 2021, he pitched just 52 2/3 innings last year with a 6.04 ERA. 2020 was much better, as he was healthy enough to make 29 starts and throw 152 frames. During that time, he recorded a 3.97 ERA with a strikeout rate of 23.6%, a walk rate of 6.4% and a ground ball rate of 46%. With the option price of $14 million and the buyout of $3 million, it was a clean cut decision of $11 million for the club. There’s certainly a risk in that kind of commitment given Carrasco’s injury history, but it’s also possible that he’s well worth the salary.
What likely also played a part in the Mets’ decision was their extensive rotation roster. Jacob of Grom renounced his contract when Taijuan walker and Chris Bassit declined options in favor of free agency. This left three big holes in the club’s starting staff for next year. Although Carrasco’s age and injuries caused them to consider turning down his option at any time, they might have been deterred from doing so by the circumstances. Replacing three starters is hard enough without creating another vacancy.
With Carrasco now retained, he will place himself behind Max Scherzer as two club starters next year. There are internal options to fill the remaining three slots, such as Tylor Megill, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi and Jose Butto. However, the Mets have been quite aggressive in upgrading their roster in recent years and will likely bring in reinforcements, either new faces or convincing their starting free agents to return.
As for Curtiss, 30 in April, he seemed to be having a breakout in recent years. In 2020, he pitched 25 innings for the Rays with a 1.80 ERA, 25.3% strikeout rate, 3% walk rate and 42% rush rate. He was traded to the Marlins before 2021, then to the Brewers a few months later. He posted a 3.45 ERA in 44 1/3 innings that year, but then had to undergo surgery at Tommy John in September.
After being untendered by the Brewers, the Mets signed him to a one-year contract, knowing he would miss the entire 2022 campaign, but with the option for 2023. The $775,000 salary is barely above the league minimum, which will be $720,000 next year. There’s little chance the Mets will get him back and see if Curtiss can get back to his old form once he’s healthy. They also face huge turnover in the bullpen, as Mychal Givens, Adam Ottavino, Trevor Williams, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo, Trevor May and Tommy Hunter are all now free agents. Edwin Diaz had to join this group before he and the Mets agreed to a new contract. Given that the Mets will essentially have to rebuild their entire bullpen, it makes sense to hold on to all the heat they can find.
With those two salaries now on the books, the Mets payroll for 2023 stands at $238 million, according to Roster Resource. Their CBT number is slightly ahead at $249 million, since that figure is calculated by looking at the average annual value of contracts over their entire term, not just 2023 salaries. This year’s highest tax bracket will start at $293 million, with owner Steve Cohen hinting to Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman of the New York Post that he might be willing to spend in that range. If so, the club still has funds available to continue improving the pitching staff and positional player roster.
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