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MLB New York Mets

8 Starting Pitchers New York Mets Could Sign Before 2014 Season

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8 Starting Pitchers The New York Mets Could Sign Before The Season

8 Starting Pitchers The New York Mets Could Sign Before The Season
The Star-Ledger - USATODAY Sports

The New York Mets have had quite a productive offseason, although there is still work to do with roughly a month remaining until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. One of the things the Mets haven’t accomplished this offseason is sign a pitcher, or possibly multiple pitchers, to compete for the fifth spot in their starting rotation. However, there are plenty of free agents still available for the Mets to sign.

Heading into Spring Training, the first four spots in the Mets rotation are set with Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and the newly-signed Bartolo Colon. However, the final spot in the rotation remains unspoken for. The Mets have a long list of quality pitching prospects, but while they may be willing to let some of their young pitching prospects contribute out of the bullpen this season, they would prefer that top prospects like Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard get more seasoning in the minors. This is why the Mets would prefer to sign a veteran that can beat out their younger pitchers for a rotation spot in Spring Training.

Of course, the Mets aren’t going to guarantee a veteran starter a roster spot, so they have to sign someone that’s willing to take a minor league contract. Their main competition for the spot will be Jenrry Mejia, who pitched well at the end of last season but still has health concerns. There are still rumors and uncertainty about whom the Mets will sign, but they should be able to find somebody among these eight candidates:

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8. Daisuke Matsuzaka

Daisuke Matsuzaka
Brad Penner - USATODAY Sports

There were rumors that the Mets had signed Matsuzaka, but those turned out to be false. Matsuzaka finished last year with the Mets and settled down to finished the season strong after a few rocky starts. The Mets should feel comfortable bringing him back in 2014 if he’s the best option available to them.

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7. Aaron Harang

Aaron Harang
Joe Camporeale - USATODAY Sports

Harang finished last season with the Mets and performed well in four starts. He may not be their top choice, but at least the Mets know what they’re getting from him. If they can’t find somebody better, the Mets should have no problem bringing him back.

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6. Jason Marquis

Mason Marquis
Jeff Curry - USATODAY Sports

Marquis is a Long Island native that’s always wanted to play for the Mets, and this could be his chance if he’s willing to sign a minor league contract and beat out the Mets’ younger pitchers in spring training. He’s been a bit of journeyman over the past few years and hasn’t always been an effective pitcher during that time, but he’s still a pitcher that can fit in the back end of a major league rotation, and that fits what the Mets are looking for.

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5. Johan Santana

Johan Santana
The Star-Ledger - USATODAY Sports

There are a lot of reasons why it would make sense for Santana to return to the Mets on a minor league deal. If he’s not ready by Opening Day or is beat out by the Mets' young pitchers for the final spot in the rotation, he can continue to workout with coaches he’s familiar with and with an organization he has a good relationship with. This could give him the best chance to get back to the big leagues.

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4. Tommy Hanson

Tommy Hanson
Gary A. Vasquez - USATODAY Sports

Five years ago, Hanson was one of the top prospects in the Braves organization, and now he’s still looking for a job in the middle of January. He’s really struggled over the last two seasons, but the Mets have faced him enough times to know what he’s capable of doing. If they can get him signed to a minor league deal, he could be an interesting reclamation project for pitching coach Dan Warthen.

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3. Freddy Garcia

Freddy Garcia
Brad Mills - USATODAY Sports

Garcia is a little old, and that could make the Mets weary especially after signing 40-year old Bartolo Colon. However, Garcia can still get batters out, and he has experience in the bullpen, so he could move there whenever the Mets want to bring up one of their top pitching prospects. That flexibility could be quite beneficial for the Mets this year.

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2. John Lannan

John Lannan
Howard Smith - USATODAY Sports

Lannan is a native of Long Island, so it would make sense for him to want to pitch for the Mets at some point in his career. His ERA with the Phillies last year was 5.33, and he’s spent a considerable amount of time over the past two seasons in triple-A, so whether or not he’s still a major league-caliber pitcher is questionable. However, the Mets could use a second lefty in their rotation, and Lannan could be a nice complement to some of the harder-throwing pitchers that the Mets have in their rotation.

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1. Paul Maholm

Paul Maholm
Howard Smith - USATODAY Sports

Maholm has made at least 26 starts in the majors every year since 2006, and that kind of durability is exactly what the Mets are looking for. On top of that, Maholm isn’t far removed from good seasons in 2011 and 2012, so he’s capable of being a real asset to a major league rotation.