Mets Rumors: Max Scherzer, Kevin Gausman Among NY's Top Targets

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IV

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 17: Max Scherzer #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during Game 2 of the NLCS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on Sunday, October 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The New York Mets are reportedly targeting two of the top starting pitchers available in free agency in Max Scherzer and Kevin Gausman.

According to SNY's Andy Martino, the Mets are "in hard" on Gausman, and the belief is he could sign with a team Saturday or Sunday.

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Top free agent starter Max Scherzer is expected to make his decision before the impending Dec. 1 lockout. Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Mets among teams in.

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Mets are aggressively pursuing Max Scherzer. However, considering his known preferences they understand they may need to go to plan B. Scherzer limited field to California as a trade piece and thrived in LA, so Mets know it won’t be easy. Gausman looks like their next option.

Meanwhile, the Mets have spoken with Scherzer's agent Scott Boras but are reportedly "not overly optimistic" about being able to sign him.

If the Mets do manage to sign 30-year-old Gausman, they'll largely be banking on his one elite season not being an aberration.

Last season with the National League West-winning San Francisco Giants, Gausman went 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 227 strikeouts in 192 innings. He set career highs across the board in wins, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.

As a result of his impressive performance, Gausman was named an All-Star for the first time, and he finished sixth in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

Gausman showed signs of a breakout during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, as he went 3-3 with a 3.62 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 59.2 innings, which was good for a career-best strikeout rate of 11.9 per nine innings.

In his first seven MLB seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds, Gausman was solid, but he averaged just seven wins per season with a 4.30 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 8.3 strikeout rate.

Gausman would be a good signing for New York if he can maintain his recent level of performance, while Scherzer would be a huge addition in terms of potentially helping to make the Mets playoff and World Series contenders in short order.

Scherzer may not have a ton of time left in his career at 37 years of age, but he is still a top-flight pitcher.

In 30 starts split between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals last season, Scherzer went 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA, NL-best 0.86 WHIP and 236 strikeouts in 179.1 innings.

Scherzer was named an All-Star for the eighth time in his likely Hall of Fame career and finished third in the Cy Young voting, marking his sixth career finish of third or better.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner has 190 career wins, a career ERA of 3.16 and strikes out 10.7 batters per nine innings, although that number has been at or around 12 for the past five seasons.

Perhaps the biggest appeal of Scherzer to the Mets would be the fact that he helped lead the Nationals to a World Series title in 2019, which is something the Mets haven't won since 1986.

New York has already been active in free agency this offseason with the reported signings of outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha, as well as infielder Eduardo Escobar.

The Mets have been quiet on the pitching front, however, and undoubtedly need to add at least one starter with Marcus Stroman being a free agent and Noah Syndergaard having already signed with the Los Angeles Angels.

Mets owner Steve Cohen has made it clear he is willing to spend big in order to mold the team into a contender, and landing a starter the caliber of Gausman or Scherzer would be another step in the right direction.