The free agent starting pitching market has moved very quickly over the offseason’s first few weeks, and it seems another domino could soon fall. Southpaw Steven Matz is likely to pick his destination before Thanksgiving, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
Interest in Matz has been robust, with the Red Sox, incumbent Blue Jays, Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals and Angels among teams already rumored to have interest. Jon Heyman of the MLB Network adds the Tigers, Cubs and Giants to that mix. The Mets have put forth a formal offer, although they’re joined in that regard by seven other clubs, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (on Twitter).
Matz is coming off a nice season in Toronto, rebounding from an awful 2020 campaign to toss 150 2/3 innings of 3.82 ERA ball. The 30-year-old didn’t miss too many bats, but he only walked 6.6% of opponents and induced grounders at a solid 45.5% clip. Matz’s 4.12 SIERA wasn’t quite as impressive as his ERA, but both his actual run prevention and peripherals have typically hovered right around 4.00.
That’s valuable mid-rotation production, although Matz has previously had some issues with the long ball. Home runs weren’t an issue in 2021, but he served up an astonishing 14 round-trippers in just 30 2/3 frames with the Mets in 2020. That showing seemingly marked for an ugly end to a generally solid tenure in Queens, but the New York front office apparently has interest in bringing him back into the fold after his bounceback showing this year.
Each of the Tigers, Cubs and Giants entered the offseason known to be targeting rotation help. The Cubs claimed Wade Miley off waivers from the division-rival Reds. Detroit has already signed Eduardo Rodríguez, while San Francisco has reunited with Anthony DeSclafani and are seemingly on the verge of a deal with Alex Wood. None of that trio has as marked a rotation need as they did just two weeks ago, but there’s enough uncertainty on all three clubs’ staffs that they can and probably will make another rotation addition of some sort this winter.
The Jays considered making Matz an $18.4MM qualifying offer but ultimately decided against it. Toronto won’t receive a compensatory pick if he were to sign elsewhere, then, while adding Matz wouldn’t cost another team a draft pick.