New York Mets realize need for starting pitching depth, sign A.J. Griffin

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: A.J. Griffin (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: A.J. Griffin (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images) /

One of the biggest problems for the New York Mets during the 2017 season was injuries, especially in their starting rotation. General manager Sandy Alderson has signed a couple of starting pitchers over the past few weeks so that the team will be more prepared in the event that health becomes an issue again this year.

With Opening Day just four weeks away, the New York Mets decided to add more depth to their starting rotation by signing right-handed pitcher A.J. Griffin to a minor league deal.

Griffin, 30, had been with the Texas Rangers for the last two seasons. His contract with the Mets includes an invitation to major league spring training. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Griffin’s contract is worth $750,000 and includes $500,000 in incentives.

Last year, Griffin went 6-6 with a 5.94 ERA in 18 appearances for the Rangers (15 starts). He really struggled over the course of his two seasons in Texas. Originally drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2010, Griffin made his major league debut in 2012. He had a solid rookie season for the Athletics, going 7-1 with an ERA of 3.06 in 15 starts.

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Barring an injury to one of the Mets main starting pitchers during spring training, Griffin will almost certainly begin the 2018 season in Triple-A. As of right now, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGromMatt Harvey, and Steven Matz are all projected to be in the Mets starting rotation come Opening Day. Zack Wheeler and newly signed left-hander Jason Vargas are expected to compete in spring training for the fifth starting spot in the rotation.

Obviously, the hope is that all of these pitchers can stay healthy for a full season. As we saw last year, however, anticipating that every one of the Mets young arms will remain injury-free for the whole year is not realistic. Syndergaard, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler each missed significant time due to injury in 2017. Mets starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman also spent time on the disabled list last season.

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The recent signings of Vargas and Griffin indicate that Mets general manager Sandy  Alderson recognizes the need to have more depth in the starting rotation. New Mets manager Mickey Callaway now has plenty of starting pitchers to work with. In the event that one of the young arms has to spend time on the disabled list this season, Callaway now has other starters that he can turn to.