The Mets have already been linked to several available starters early in the offseason, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that Jameson Taillon is one of the names the club has been in touch with during its ongoing pitching search. Taillon (who just turned 31 on November 18) is a free agent for the first time in his career, and he ranks 14th on MLBTR’s list of the winter’s top 50 free agents.
The right-hander is no stranger to the Big Apple, having spent the last two seasons with the Yankees. Taillon missed most of 2019 and all of 2020 recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he rebounded to post a 4.08 ERA over 321 2/3 innings since the start of the 2021 campaign. Taillon has a below-average strikeout rate and he returned from that TJ recovery with below-average fastball velocity, but he has excellent spin rates and strong control. Taillon’s 4.4% walk rate ranked in the 94th percentile of all pitchers in 2022.
Perhaps most importantly, Taillon has been healthy over the last two seasons, apart from a three-week IL stint with an ankle injury in September 2021. Taillon has undergone two Tommy John surgeries and battled testicular cancer, so the Yankees certainly assumed some risk when they acquired Taillon in a deal with the Pirates during the 2020-21 offseason. Fortunately, Taillon has avoided any further major heath problems, and now (if anything) looks like something of a reliable veteran innings-eater that could fit into any team’s rotation.
The Yankees opted against issuing a qualifying offer to Taillon, so he was able to hit the open market without any draft compensation attached to his services. MLBTR projected Taillon for a four-year, $56MM contract, but with the caveat that the righty’s Tommy John history could make it difficult for him to land that fourth guaranteed year.
Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker are all free agents, leaving the Mets with some major holes to fill in the rotation. Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco will certainly fill two of the five spots, and David Peterson, Tylor Megill, and recent trade acquisition Elieser Hernandez could end up all battling for one available spot, or possibly all be depth options depending on how many pitchers are added or re-signed. As one might expect, the Mets have been aggressive in exploring the market, checking in on the top names (deGrom, Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga), more second-tier starters like Taillon or Andrew Heaney, and back-of-the-rotation depth like Hernandez.