With Marquis, John Lackey and Randy Wolf now unavailable, the Mets could be down to the last of the preferred free-agent starting pitchers -- Joel Pineiro. But there has been no indication that they have any great interest in him. The $29.75 million contract Wolf signed with the Brewers appeared to spook the Mets. They hadn't expected Wolf to command such a figure and were prompted to look past the other starters they considered mid-range and less accomplished than Lackey. They did develop a belated interest in Lackey based in part of Wolf's deal, though not one comparable to the Red Sox's interest -- $85 million.Like so many free agents this winter, what Pineiro expected to receive on the market likely will not come close to the deal he actually signs. Why? Because there are so few teams out there looking to spend big money on a starting pitcher and there are even fewer teams out there with money to spend. The Mets are one of the few teams on the market left that have a definite need for a starting pitcher and have money to spend as well.
If Pineiro is going to come close to Randy Wolf money, then he's going to need to have a number of teams interested in his services. But right now, the market for Pineiro simply is not there. Outside of the Mets, what other teams would have interest in Pineiro at $7-$10 million annually?
- Yankees: Nope. Not after the Vazquez trade
- Red Sox: Nope. Not after the Lackey signing
- Cubs: Doubtful. Do they have the money to spend?
- Dodgers: Doubtful. Do they have the money to spend?
- Nationals: Doubtful, especially after committing $15 million to Jason Marquis
- Orioles: Doubtful given their payroll and recent acquisition of Kevin Millwood
- Mariners: Probably not given their recent acquisition of Cliff Lee
- Cardinals: Unlikely at this point because they signed Brad Penny
The best case scenario for Pineiro and his agent is if the Mets and Angels both become desperate for a front line starting pitcher and decide to go hard after Pineiro.
But is that scenario likely? I doubt it. Even though there is tremendous pressure on the Mets to get a deal done with any top free agent, their lack of interest in Pineiro so far suggests that while they need a starting pitcher, maybe Pineiro is not the guy they want to go after strongly. As for the Angels, they have less money to spend than the Mets do and they are making a strong run at Fernando Rodney. In addition, the Angels have a very good fallback option should Pineiro sign elsewhere-Matt Palmer. Under no circumstances should the Angels panic after Lackey's loss given their wealth of resources, prospects, and options.
If both the Mets and Angels remain patient and refuse to panic, than the price tag for Pineiro will inevitably drop. I doubt he'll achieve the salary of Randy Wolf, but he should earn more than Jason Marquis. Given how the market has played out, Pineiro at 3 years/$24 million seems about right.
At that price, I would expect the Mets to be very much interested in Pineiro.