The New York Mets gave themselves some roster flexibility and some more time to decide who their fifth starter is going to be. The team agreed to pay Daisuke Matsuzaka $100,000 to reserve the right to send the right-hander to the minors at the start of the season. As part of the agreement, Matsuzaka can opt out of his contract if he is still in the minor leagues on June 1.
This decision helps the Mets in two ways. First, it ensures that Matsuzaka will stick around for the first two months of the season, whether or not he makes the team’s 25-man Opening Day roster. This is an important hedge against injuries, considering Jon Niese will start the season on the disabled list. Niese is eyeballing Apr. 6 for his return, but injuries are always unpredictable. Also, Jenrry Mejia, Dice-K’s chief competition for the fifth starter job, has a history of injuries. If Mejia wins the job out of Spring Training but then gets hurt in April or May, the Mets can call upon Dice-K to take his place.
Second, Matsuzaka and Mejia have both had solid springs. The front office hasn’t made up their minds yet about which one of them they’d like to have in the starting rotation come Mar. 31. By giving Matsuzaka the $100,000, they give themselves one more week to observe Dice-K and Mejia in order to make a more informed decision.
This is the right move for the Mets to make. It gives them maximum flexibility in their starting rotation, no matter whether Matsuzaka or Mejia gets the nod.
It seems like the good decisions the Mets organization makes are few and far between, but this is one of them.