At the official start of free agency in November, David Peterson ranked second on the Mets’ rotation depth chart behind only Jacob deGrom. In the months that followed, Marcus Stroman accepted a qualifying offer, Carlos Carrasco and Joey Lucchesi came aboard via trade, and Taijuan Walker signed a two-year deal.
The presence of those pitchers, along with several others in camp, means that Peterson no longer has a guaranteed job. Mets officials have already talked to him in those terms, in what manager Luis Rojas called “the language of competing for a spot in the rotation.”
“We’re very proud, of course, of the job he did last year,” Rojas said. “The kind of call he got, immediate challenge, and he seemed that he was ready for it and never lost a beat. He told me that he worked really hard in the offseason. … So with his makeup, and him and I talked about being humble and staying hungry and how smart he is … those are always going to help him to keep growing.”
Given Peterson’s success over the shortened 60-game season, including a 3.44 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance, he would seem to deserve the fifth starter’s job on merit. But things are not always that simple. Peterson threw just 49 2/3 innings last year, has never compiled more than 128 in any professional season, and has never pitched a full six-month campaign. Peterson also experienced a mild case of left shoulder fatigue toward the end of last summer.
Given all that, the Mets could be motivated to begin his season in the bullpen or the Minors to reduce his overall workload. But those aren’t the only options. The Mets could also shift to a six-man rotation, though doing so would require creative maneuvering to maximize deGrom’s contributions. Team officials plan to have all such discussions at a later date.
What’s clear is that the Mets currently have four rotation locks in deGrom, Stroman, Carrasco and Walker. That leaves Peterson, Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Jerad Eickhoff, Sean Reid-Foley and others to compete for that final spot.
In Peterson’s case, the left-hander spent his winter working to prepare himself for the rigors of a longer season, so that once Spring Training arrived, he would be able “to take that challenge on this year.”
“Last year felt like a taste,” Peterson said. “I’m ready to get back and get going again.”
See you in the summer
To clear 40-man roster space for Walker, the Mets on Saturday transferred Noah Syndergaard to the 60-day injured list. That ensures Syndergaard will be out until at least May 30, which is unsurprising considering the Mets’ stated hope of a June return. The Mets still must clear another 40-man spot for outfielder Kevin Pillar, whose signing is not yet official.
Syndergaard and Seth Lugo are the only pitchers limited in the opening days of camp. Lugo was “in good spirits” following surgery this week to remove a bone spur from his right elbow, according to Rojas. He’s not a 60-day IL candidate, because the Mets are hopeful he can return before the end of May.
Change in the air
New Mets owner Steve Cohen toured the Clover Park facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Saturday. In a brief interview with a Mets staffer, Cohen -- who has remained quiet in the media since deleting his Twitter account late last month -- said being around the team in Florida has made his purchase of the team seem “more real.”
“I’m pretty excited by this ballclub,” Cohen said. “I think [team president] Sandy [Alderson] and the crew have done a really good job assembling some depth, really interesting ballplayers at all positions, so I think we’re going to be significantly improved. And I’m hopeful.”