By Ethan Marshall
The disaster that has been the 2017 Mets season thus far has fans thinking “How can this get any worse,” every day. With Yoenis Cespedes and now Noah Syndergaard sidelined indefinitely with injuries, the Mets need to right the ship without their best pitcher and hitter.
Syndergaard’s injury may prove more costly in the long run. With Seth Lugo and Steven Matz still weeks away from returning from their own injuries, the Mets are without a decent replacement. The current plan for Friday is for Rafael Montero to start, but he’s failed to prove he belongs in the big leagues time and time again.
Assuming the Mets sign free agent Doug Fister (which they should), he would likely need two or three weeks to get himself ready to pitch in a major league game. As early as it is, the Mets could explore the trade market for a pitcher that can eat up innings.
Bartolo Colon, who the Mets let go in the offseason because they felt they already had enough pitching depth, could be a suitable target for Sandy Alderson. The Braves are in rebuilding mode, and with Colon signed on a one-year deal, he seems likely to be traded at some point this season. Colon proved incredibly reliable in his Mets tenure, eating up innings while pitching well. The Mets could really use a pitcher with a rubber arm like Colon’s right now. With the Mets beginning their first series at SunTrust Park in Atlanta tonight, this could be a good time for Alderson to talk with Braves general manager John Coppolella about working out a deal for Colon.
The Mets and Braves have gotten along well in recent years on the trade front. In July 2015, the Mets traded minor league pitchers John Gant and Rob Whalen for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. In June 2016 the Braves again traded Johnson to the Mets, this time for minor league pitcher Akeel Morris.
Of course there may be problems in negotiating a deal for Colon. The Braves may try to take advantage of the Mets’ desperation by asking for higher tier prospects in exchange for Colon. Additionally, Colon has an ERA of 5.59 in 29 innings pitched.
The Mets can’t afford to throw Montero out to the mound every five days for at least the next three weeks. Whether it’s through the waiver wire, free agency or trading, the Mets need to find a replacement that can give them a quality outing each start.
Perhaps one way to negotiate with the Braves is to consider offering media magnet Tim Tebow. The Braves just opened a new stadium, and need a way to sell more tickets. Arguably nobody draws as much a crowd as Tebow. While he alone wouldn’t be nearly enough for the Mets to give up for Colon, he could still draw the attention of the Braves if he continues to produce in the minor leagues. While he is only batting .237 for the Class A Columbia Fireflies, he did go 6-21 last week, posting a .285 average. Trading Tebow for Colon may just be stupid enough to work.