The New York Mets didn’t do much in terms of free agency this off-season, but the little they did do, they did very well, including the signing of starting pitcher Shaun Marcum.
With the trade of R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Mets had an opening in their rotation, but instead of allowing a slew of young, but not-quite-ready prospects compete for the 5th spot in the rotation, the Mets spent some money and brought in Marcum to solidify what could be an excellent rotation.
In the absence of Dickey, and the 20 wins he produced last year, Marcum is the perfect fit for the Mets. Although he won just seven games last year in an injury-shortened season, he averaged 12 wins per season over the previous four years (barring the 2009 season, which he missed due to Tommy John surgery), averaging 29 starts per season over that time.
Marcum isn’t an overpowering pitcher, nor is he a pitcher that flashes brilliants stuff, but he has been a model of consistency and reliability over the course of his career, which is exactly what the Mets need. Last year, the Mets knew they could rely on Dickey every time he took the mound, and while Marcum won’t win a Cy Young this season, the Mets know that they will get a professional effort and a solid outing from him every 5th day.
Historically, Marcum has been a strike-throwing control pitcher, something the Mets front office values, as well as a guy with a healthy strikeout rate and an ERA in the mid 3’s. He doesn’t blow people away, but he gets the job done. After a slight step backwards last year, if Marcum can regain the form he had in 2010 and 2011, the Mets will have a starter that gives them a fighting chance of winning every time he takes the mound, and should account for roughly 10 to 12 wins this season. Marcum will also provide a veteran presence for a rotation that is extremely young outside of Johan Santana, a key role that shouldn’t be overlooked.
So while the Mets moves in free agency may have been few and far between this off-season, the addition of Marcum solidifies a strong rotation, and has given Mets fans at least a slight hint that the front office is going to do what it can to put a competitive team on the field in 2013, a message that’s well worth the $4 million price tag that accompanies Marcum to New York.