The New York Mets’ signing of starting pitcher John Lannan to a minor-league contract is a minor move by GM Sandy Alderson, but it’s one that could pay off for them in a big way in 2014. Lannan was one of several candidates that the Mets could have signed to compete for their fifth starter job this year, and he was one of the best options available.
Lannan can be described as a soft-throwing lefty, but that’s exactly what the Mets need in their rotation. With right-handed power arms like Bartolo Colon and Zack Wheeler at the front of their rotation, a lefty like Lannan who doesn’t throw particularly hard is a great complement, especially if he slots in the rotation between two hard-throwing pitchers.
Left-handed pitchers is a weakness of the Mets organization and other than Lannan, Jon Niese is the only lefty starter that has a realistic chance of pitching for the team this season.
Lannan has had trouble staying in the big leagues over the past couple of seasons, but he’s spent his entire career in the NL East. So, his familiarity with the hitters the Mets will be facing within their division will be advantageous if he ends up spending a significant amount of time in their rotation this season, although that isn’t a certainty.
Lannan’s main competition in Spring Training will be Jenrry Mejia and a few of the Mets’ top pitching prospects, most notably Rafael Montero. However, Mejia has struggled to stay healthy over the past few seasons, and the Mets would prefer to give their prospects more time in the minors, so Lannan should come to Spring Training as the front-runner to win the final spot in the rotation.
If Lannan does end up being in the Mets’ rotation in 2014, the team should be in good shape. He’s still capable of being a back-of-the-rotation starter and he enters 2014 with a lot to prove, which should help him pitch to the best of his ability. Most importantly, the Mets signing him is no risk and all reward, so if he doesn’t work out, the Mets have their share of talented youngsters waiting to take over.